6 Ways Crafts Can Help With Managing Depression

Updated on February 3, 2018
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Claire Miller is a student who battles with depression. She hopes to help end the stigma of mental illness by sharing her own experiences.

I hate it when people tell me to "do something to take your mind off it" when I talk about my down moments. However, as frustrating as it is, those people are right.

Becoming so engrossed in a hobby to the point that I can escape the deep, dark pit within me has often helped me manage my depression. Yes, I still struggle with my mental health, but more often than not it helps to do something.

Crafts are a fantastic way to escape the claws of depression. They can be done from the comfort of your bed if it feels impossible to get up. Crochet, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, drawing, painting... The possibilities and opportunities are endless.

"But how can crafts possibly help me with my depression?" I can hear some of you wondering. Well, here are six ways in which they can help, along with some pictures of the more recent projects that I have been working on to get your creative juices flowing:

They can offer new ways to express yourself

Words aren't always enough to describe how you are feeling or what thoughts are running through your head. Drawing and painting can help to replace words with more accurate demonstrations of what is going on within.

This way of expressing yourself can help to unburden the brain without trying to fathom the words to describe what you are feeling.

I really enjoy sketching and when I can get my drawing hand to work with my brain, I manage to produce something that can represent how I'm feeling while also taking me away from the negativity.
I really enjoy sketching and when I can get my drawing hand to work with my brain, I manage to produce something that can represent how I'm feeling while also taking me away from the negativity.

You can see how you're progressing

It's easy to measure how well you are doing with crafts because you can see your work grow and improve the more you do it. The best thing about crafts is that there's a type of craft for everyone. You also don't need to be spectacularly good to begin with. Think of it as an experiment. You can learn for yourself what works and what needs tweaking. And with time and practice, you can look at where you started and how far you have come.

Whether it's knitting, drawing, or something else, there's always a clear level of progression.

Crochet grows a lot faster than knitting does, so this might be a better craft for those who need quick gratification for their efforts, like me.
Crochet grows a lot faster than knitting does, so this might be a better craft for those who need quick gratification for their efforts, like me.

They can take your mind away from negative thoughts

I find that I forget about the world around me when I'm taking photographs or doing any other type of craft. Focus is everything when doing crafts, and it can therefore give your mind a bit of relief from your issues. At first this may be difficult to do, but hopefully as you do it more often and see your progress, you will learn to block out those negative thoughts and focus on the beautiful work you're making.

It doesn't matter that I don't have the best equipment or that I'm not a professional photographer. When I'm taking pictures, nothing - not even how I am feeling - matters. It's all about getting that shot.
It doesn't matter that I don't have the best equipment or that I'm not a professional photographer. When I'm taking pictures, nothing - not even how I am feeling - matters. It's all about getting that shot.

You're reuniting yourself with your creativity

Depression can leave us feeling empty and devoid of creativity. But it's merely a lie. You are a creative human being. We all are in our own ways.

It's entirely up to you how you channel your creativity. Some like to write; others like to work with wood or metal; some like to sew or knit or crochet; others like to draw or paint or take photographs. And still others have other ways of channelling their creativity.

Crafts can help you to remove the dark haze your mental health has thrown at you and feel more like yourself again, even if it's for a small period. You can choose a craft you're familiar with or decide to learn something new. It depends on where you feel comfortable starting.

I started off just by painting shells and now I'm doing crochet, drawing, photography, and even looking at writing fiction again. Even the smallest of steps forward still count.
I started off just by painting shells and now I'm doing crochet, drawing, photography, and even looking at writing fiction again. Even the smallest of steps forward still count.

You are actually doing something!

All those days in which you have chastised yourself for doing nothing all day can be disregarded. You are doing something! Here's the proof for you to see for yourself! And that thing takes a lot of skill, patience, and creativity that you clearly have! If that doesn't give you a small sense of achievement, I don't know what will. It's a huge deal, and you should give yourself a pat on the back for every little milestone you make!

I had a bit of a play around with patchwork at one point. It turns out it isn't really my cup of tea at this time in my life, but at least I can say that I did something and tried something new. That's still a pretty good achievement!
I had a bit of a play around with patchwork at one point. It turns out it isn't really my cup of tea at this time in my life, but at least I can say that I did something and tried something new. That's still a pretty good achievement!

You have a finished product that you can be proud of at the end of it!

This is probably the best thing: you have a finished product at the end of it! Something that you made yourself! Whenever you look at it you can feel a sense of pride. During your down days you can look at it and remind yourself that you can do things. You can achieve anything you can conquer and put your mind to.

Achievements can seem few and far between during our moments of darkness, which is why crafts can be so useful. A physical representation of what you can create can be an effective reminder of such achievements.

This was the first piece of sewing that I did, and it's now my favourite skirt. I'm so proud of it!
This was the first piece of sewing that I did, and it's now my favourite skirt. I'm so proud of it!

What crafts do YOU like to do?

Are there any creative things that you like to do or would like to learn? Maybe you used to enjoy a craft, but you're now struggling to bring yourself to do it any more. Let me know in the comments.

Also, if you want more posts on crafts, let me know in the comments section below. I'm not a professional at any of them. With some, like crochet, I'm still learning myself. But I'm happy to supply you with ideas and resources if you want them.

And in the meantime, keep smiling. You're amazing. Maybe you don't believe it right now, but you are.

© 2018 Claire Miller

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    • cmiller0161 profile image
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      Claire Miller 4 days ago

      Thank you so much for your comments!

      RTalloni, I will start working on some tutorials next month. Thank you for the suggestion!

      McKenna, I cannot encourage you enough to try it. When I was coming off my anti-depressants, crafts helped me through the rough tumbles I faced while getting used to no longer having that crutch. I could spend a down day just knitting and feel comforted by the fact that I was still doing something other than moping. It was basically my stepping stone towards exercising more.

      Diana, that's fantastic! It's amazing how quickly crafts can calm you down after a stressful moment.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 2 weeks ago from Potter County, Pa.

      I have always enjoyed one type of craft or another. It does help ease stress. Good hub.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 3 weeks ago from Bend, OR

      I never thought about crafts as a way to battle depression, Claire, but it makes a lot of sense. I took anti-depressants for many years until I weaned off of them. Now I'm always looking for natural ways to battle depression. Exercise is my go-to fix, but I'm going to start exploring my creative side thanks to you!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 weeks ago from the short journey

      Such a cute skirt! A tutorial on your process would be neat to see. Actually, any tutorial on your crafts would be welcome.

      So agree with your post. Arts and crafts certainly have the potential to help with depression. More than that, we were created to be occupied in such ways so engaging in them is satisfying on a deep level. Though not directly about depression, you've reminded me of a poem from J. Piper: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/pilgrim-s-con...

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