How can these bad ass crafts stop you from shutting down?

Mr. Rogers

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Sometimes it is hard to keep your mind off your troubles and negative thoughts might keep creeping in. What are some ways you have prevented yourself from shutting down in the past? It is great to keep a list of these handy because when you start to shut down, sometimes, it is hard to come up with ideas. Whether or not you suffer from mental illness or addiction, often keeping your hands and mind occupied with tasks that may or may not seem pointless can help you to keep your balance.

Not only are crafts a great way to express ourselves artistically, but they can help weave one moment into the next. Sometimes literally. Doing crafts, especially ones that can tend to be repetitive can be very meditative.

As you are doing a craft, it may help you to forget about the outcome. It may help to release yourself from any judgment about whether what you are doing is objectively “good” or “artistic enough.” It doesn’t matter. Often, one thing that we really need is a return to the type of carefree play we hopefully enjoyed in our childhood.

Also, as you craft, you may find thoughts floating in and out of your mind — some might be sad thoughts or memories — some might be angry thoughts or ideas. What a lot of people don’t realize about mindfulness is that rather than blanking out your mind, it is allowing these thoughts to flow through you. The good and the bad.

When we engage in a repetitive activity such as crafting, gardening, swimming, kneading bread, etc. then we can start to really notice the thoughts that are floating around in our minds. And this is what mindfulness is. It is the noticing. It is the quality of being in the present moment and noticing. You can be very angry and be mindful. You might notice a stiffness in your neck and a quickness in your pulse. You might notice all the angry thoughts going through your head. You might notice a frown on your face.

The power of mindfulness is not a perfection of calm over emotion. Rather, it is learning to be both yourself and an observer of yourself. And how does this help? Well, when we realize that we are more than our anger, more than our pain, more than our depression — then we begin to have a more enlightened insight into ourselves. This ability to shift our point of view from the pure experience of anger, for example, to the experience AND the observation of the experience, helps us to develop compassion.

The beginning of healing from all mental health problems is the development of compassion for oneself. Compassion for others is also nice, but compassion for oneself is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, most people have very little compassion for themselves, which is sad because you would think you would be on your side. Since — you are you, right? However, sadly, very often, we are not our own best friends. We notice all the things we do wrong. We are phenomenally self-critical of things no one else notices and we beat ourselves up ferociously.

This is why compassion for oneself is the beginning of mental wellness. And the best way to obtain that is through mindfulness. And… crafting is one way into mindfulness.

If you are looking for a general place to begin your crafting wellness journey, you could look at Essential Art Therapy Exercises: Effective Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD
by Leah Guzman

The rest of this article discusses some interesting crafting ideas and I aimed it at a slightly subversive crowd because, typically, crafting has been the realm of the conservative. As a non-conformist, shall we say, I have always enjoyed a variety of crafting activities and I hope that other weirdos out there realize how many hours of peace and enjoyment one can get. And you can do it while binge-watching your favorite TV show on Netflix.

  1. Funny Cross Stitch Patterns – Some are funny. Some might be rude or subversive. But, either way, these are not your Grandma’s cross stitch. Enjoy the meditative peace of cross stitch and, if someone glances at your canvas, it might say something inspirational such as “Eat a Bag of Dicks.” Don’t know how to cross stitch? This is what I love about living in the age of YouTube! Click here for more subversive cross stitch patterns.
  2. Amigurumi – What is Amigurumi? I hear you asking this. And if so, oh, you have been missing out. This is a Japanese style of crochet for making small, realistic dolls. Be sure you are purchasing the pattern or the doll. I mean, make sure you are ordering what you want so you get what you want. Isn’t that the key to so much of life’s joy? Knowing what we want in the first place and then remembering to ask for it clearly. But I digress. There are several patterns I think are super amazing:
    • Crafty is Cool Crochet – These are about the best, most interesting amigurumi patterns I have seen. I particularly like the “neighbor” one, which is… Mr. Rogers?!
      Mr. Rogers
  3. Quilling – Did you say quilting? No. I said “quilling.” This is an intricate art of twirling little bits of paper around and making pictures out of that. Like any craft, results can vary. But the point is that it is absorbing.
    • Starting Materials:
  4. Weaving loom kits
  5. Candle making kits
  6. UV Resin DIY kits – I want to try this!

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