I realized quite a long time ago that exercise and creative pursuits were essential to my well-being.
Exercise, sure, it’s kind of obvious - healthy heart, healthy lungs, strong muscles, strong bones.
And quite frankly I’m addicted to the rush of happy hormones that comes once I finish a workout.
(During? Not so much. I’m always way happier to finish a workout than I am to start one.)
And if it wasn’t for sewing and crafting, I’d never even make it through my Saturday workouts. See, I take a spinning class on Saturdays and I don’t exactly love it. But it fits my schedule and it’s an intense but low impact workout that falls on the right day of the week for my fitness routine, so I do it anyway. I don’t enjoy it one bit though.
Sometimes I enjoy the music and that’s enough distraction. But lots of times it takes more to keep me from watching the minutes slowly tick by until class is over.
That’s when I design or craft or sew in my head. I visualize projects I’m working on and plan what I’m going to do next. I brainstorm solutions to design problems. I plan out projects and organize myself to tackle them later in the day (if I’m lucky to have enough time). I’ve had more than a few quilts design themselves while I distract myself on a spin bike.
So the fact I’m able to use my handwork projects as a way to keep myself going back to a workout I’m not in love with really comes in handy.
And as it turns out, creativity can be as essential to good health as exercise.
Husband-and-wife team Drs. Carrie and Alton Barron wrote a book called “The Creativity Cure” which is a guide for how to build happiness with your own two hands. And they mean that in the literal sense - how taking part in handmade pursuits has measurable results on physical and mental health.
They’ve developed what they call the “Five-Part Prescription - a do-it-yourself treatment for mind, body, and hands based on self-awareness and physical engagement and designed to help you feel happier, healthier and more creative” and their model is based on these five parts:
Insight = self-knowledge Movement = physicality and exercise Mind Rest = relaxation Your Own Two Hands = using your hands in a purposeful way Mind Shift = positive thoughts
Essentially their years of research proves what I thought all along - that handwork is not only an engaging hobby, it’s also a way to improve our physical and mental health. For all the benefits that technology offers, it also comes with some significant downsides and embracing creative pursuits helps us counteract them. Creative work offers us healing and insight, it helps us connect our mental and physical selves, and it gives us a deep sense of satisfaction, both tactile and mental.
As I listened to the podcast and read up on the book, I had one of those “of course this is true, how could it not be true?” moments but that’s just me and my experience and the way my crazy mind works. So I’m very glad that Drs. Barron and Barron researched and documented their “Creativity Cure” and published this to share with the world. It really is a fascinating model.
I’m really excited to get the book and read it in full, and explore more of their model. Meanwhile, I plan to keep crafting in my head through spin class - double the benefits - it works for me!