This is a guest post from *Carrie Barron MD
Making and sharing creative works may be a mission, but did you know these actions also enhance mental health?
Creativity is “Bringing something new into being” according to psychologist Rollo May. Bringing something new into being for another’s benefit involves meaningful hand use, expression of the inner life and altruism. Research shows that these three practices are part and parcel of a well-lived life.
Studies also indicate that crafting, painting, potting, baking, sewing or knitting enhance mood and cognitive ability. Engagement in these absorbing activities elicits peak moments, feelings of effectiveness and resourcefulness, problem solving ability, joyous solitude or sense of community.
“We used to make things for practical reasons but now, a click conquers, and we lose the joys associated with creativity.”
While these inner states are some of the best parts of living, modern life no longer demands many of the tasks that conjure them. We used to make things for practical reasons but now, a click conquers, and we lose the joys associated with creativity. Just as the Arts and Crafts Movement followed the industrial revolution, the Maker Movement rose up after technological inundation. There is primal need to create by hand and to engage in a meaningful process.
In our current culture, stress and loneliness are ubiquitous:
- Up to 70% of doctor visits are for stress or stress related illness
- Nearly 30% of people feel lonely
- Technology gives us more to do and the pressure to respond rapidly
- Being tied to a device can compromise things like physical movement and outdoor exposure (nature has a positive impact on mental health)
- Tension, fatigue, depression, despair and anxiety can ensue
A creativity challenge like Make2Share is a great antidote for these conditions. It encompasses several of the ten important actions included in the program Eudaimonia (Greek word for human flourishing). Science suggests that the more we integrate the following actions into everyday life, the better off we are (and will experience less stress and increased resilience).
- Deep Connection.
- Own Two Hands.
“Hand-based projects are vehicles for expressing the inner life and tending to the inner life of others. It’s medicine. It’s a win-win.”
Research indicates that good relationships make a good life and since sharing facilitates warm human connections loneliness can be assuaged. Engaging in something like Make2Share enables human flourishing for both giver and receiver. Hand-based projects are vehicles for expressing the inner life and tending to the inner life of others. It’s medicine. It’s a win-win. Bringing something new and handmade “into being,” as an offering is both generous and self-actualizing. So get making and cement a “handmade habit” to bolster resilience and bring singular loveliness into being wherever you are!
*There’s been a lot of buzz going around lately about all of the benefits that being creative and using the hands brings us and in light of this and the purpose behind the Make2Share challenge, we thought it would be interesting to hear from an expert on the topic. We’ve asked Dr. Carrie Barron, psychiatrist with the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-author of The Creativity Cure: Building Happiness With Your Own Two Hands to share with us her thoughts about finding joy and satisfaction through handmade giving and receiving.