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Depressed, Anxious or In Pain? Crafting May Be the Answer

Depressed, Anxious or In Pain? Crafting May Be the Answer

Everyone will go through a tough time at some point in their lives. Maybe it is the passing of a loved one or the accumulation of life’s stresses. In some cases, you may simply be prone to feelings of depression or anxiety, or suffer from a medical condition with chronic pain. While the help of a medical professional is always wise, you may be able to do more to help yourself.

How Crafting Helps

People who craft experience a variety of benefits from their hobby. It can ease stress, and increase feelings of happiness. Some studies suggest it can even help the brain combat damage caused by regular ageing.

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Though most studies focus on the completion of puzzles, the cognitive benefits of completing a Sudoku puzzle may also apply to crafts, such as working through a complex knitting pattern. If the craft has a repetitive component, some may experience benefits similar to that of moving meditations commonly attributed to reaching a state of flow.

As human beings, we can only focus on, and process, a certain amount of information at a time. By choosing to busy our minds with crafts, we can prevent other feelings from being as apparent. It can calm the fight or flight response, an action of the parasympathetic nervous system, and aids in the regulation of emotion.

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Choosing a Hobby

There are a wide variety of crafts that can illicit the same benefits. Knitting, quilting, crocheting, and cross-stitching are classic choices. You can explore painting or pottery. Jewellery making may be an appealing choice. Gardening and flower arranging can go hand-in-hand, as well as nature photography.

The idea is to find an activity that you can enjoy, even if it takes a bit of work to get the hang of it. It may seem strange at first, or even a bit frustrating, but improving over time can bring benefits of its own. A sense of growth and accomplishment can have a positive effect on your mental state.

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Elevate the Experience

You can elevate the entire crafting experience, starting with material selection. For example, choosing the yarn for a knitting project can be enjoyable. Focus on how the different options feel in your hand. Look at the colours, and note which ones truly draw the eye. Examine a pattern, and imagine how someone you know would feel if you presented it as a gift. Or picture how you will enjoy it personally once it is complete.

Join a Community

As you become comfortable with your hobby, consider joining a class or community focused on you chosen craft. This allows you to be social while focusing on an activity you enjoy. The hobby acts as an icebreaker. Conversation can flow naturally based on the shared enjoyment of a particular activity. You can enjoy the company of those who can help you learn new techniques.

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Spending time with positive people can help you feel more positive. Sharing a laugh with friends can reduce stress. Over time, you will build a network of people you can spend time with regularly, and you may build friendships that exist outside of the class or craft community.

Start Small

Many craft-based hobbies can be started for very little money. If you try drawing, and you don’t find it enjoyable, you can always switch to another craft, like knitting. Give yourself some time to explore options and see what truly has your interest. After a while, you may find yourself looking forward to your crafting time, and feeling better in general.

Make it Part of a Larger Plan

Integrate your crafting into a larger treatment plan. Work with your doctor, or other medical professional, and see how your new hobby can be a part of moving your life forward. In time, you may both be pleasantly surprised by your results.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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