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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Knitting, baking and painting improve well-being and mental health, study finds

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly it happened, but at some point over the past few years, wool got cool.

No longer the preserve of grannies, knitting is now a popular hobby amongst younger generations, with millennials showing off their creations on instagram, making pilgrimages to niche wool shops and hosting hat-making parties with their friends.

And it’s not just knitting that’s made a comeback of late - a whole host of traditional and crafty skills like jam-making, crocheting and painting have had a resurgence.

According to a new study, however, taking up one of these hobbies won’t just make you terribly on-trend, it’ll also improve your mental health.

The research studied 658 students and discovered that after engaging in something crafty, people felt not only happier and calmer the following day but had more energy too.

Knitting and baking have long been lauded for their therapeutic nature, but the researchers also included crocheting, jam-making, cooking, performing music, painting, drawing, sketching, digital design and creative writing in their list of beneficial activities.

The results of the study, carried out by Otago University, New Zealand, will no doubt please members of the Women’s Institute, which has always placed an emphasis on such traditional past-times.

Janice Langley, chairman of the National Federation of Women's Institutes, told the Daily Mail: "WI members have enjoyed creative activities and crafts since the very first WI meeting in 1915, so it's great to hear this study has found some evidence that these interests could lead to increased wellbeing and creativity.”

And with the past decade having seen a notable increase in WI members and the creation of new branches, it would appear more and more people are discovering the benefits of getting crafty and domestic.

Perhaps most interesting about the study’s findings is that the boost in well-being from a creative activity endures too: “Engaging in creative behaviour leads to increases in well-being the next day, and this increased well-being is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr Tamlin Connor.

So if you want to feel better tomorrow, pick up a wooden spoon or some knitting needles today.

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