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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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