MOLLY SPRAYREGEN The Associated Press
When Girija Kaimal feels anxious, she often turns to crochet or fabric work to calm herself down.
“I have certain role models that I like to do,” she says, “and that just reinforces to me that all is well in the world, and I can still contribute to it in a meaningful way.”
Kaimal is president of the American Art Therapy Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, and believes in the mental health benefits of getting creative.
Many people have taken to crafts, from knitting to beading to adult coloring books, during the pandemic. The stress of the past two years has had an emotional impact on Americans of all ages.
“A lot of crafts also have a sort of repetitive, meditative quality to them that can be very calming,” says Carolyn Mehlomakulu, an art therapist who runs a blog called Creativity in Therapy.
Crafting can be anything that activates our creative impulses, from gardening to cooking to making collages, says Dr. Jeremy Nobel, Harvard Medical School faculty member and founder of the Foundation for Art & Healing in Brookline, Mass.
“Any activity that engages our imagination, puts us in the moment, and allows us to produce something beautiful, provocative, or irresistible matters,” he says.