Why would you make an item when you can just buy it at the mall or online already completed?
This is a good question, but perhaps one you already know the answer to – deep down. A product we have purchased:
• Has no history or connection to us
• It may not be as we envisaged
• The thrill is short-lived
• It is likely to cost more
But most of all, it turns out we are missing out on some much needed benefits. As humans we have a desire to design and make for ourselves through DIY projects and the need to use our hands.
Therapeutic, calming, thought provoking – research shows us that creating with our hand enhances mental health and boosts happiness. I remember spending time making felt Christmas trees with friends and how it relaxed us all when we had something to focus on. Needless to say, a smile when the project was finished and we each had something of our own to admire. Another thing which really stood out was how we all wanted to encourage and complement each other during the making of it and with the finished product. There was a connection shared as well as just being a lot of fun!
Spending an hour in your chosen workspace, regardless of how basic or disorganised it is, feels like real quality time. Yes, woman love pottering in garages too! This isn’t any talk of “I should” or “I must do this thing”, it is a conscious choice that “I want to work with this brush, stamp, tool, fabric, or plaster”.
The quiet time between friends – it’s not an awkward silence if you are busy using your hands and simply letting things ‘be’. Now that can’t be done when staring at each other over a coffee can it?
American Psychologist, Dr. Kelly Lambert researched the relationship between hand use, cultural habits, and mood. And what she discovered is that it’s all quite primal really. Spending too much time with activities on electronic devices and the fact that we buy most of what we need instead of making it, has deprived us of the making process, the pleasure and the pride.
Whether you’re growing vegetables, making a craft project, sewing a cushion or building a table – it doesn’t matter. These types of activities decrease stress, anxiety and depression.
So give yourself the permission to potter, paint, glue, grow and gather – you’re actually doing your mental health a real favour.