Most of us have experienced the enjoyment and satisfaction found in an art or craft, from simply sewing a button back on or sketching a doodle, to painting a watercolour or weaving a basket. But did you know that crafting has a raft of mental health benefits?

In this week’s blog, we shall take a quick look at the benefits of crafting and have a think about how these can go hand-in-hand with time spent in nature. We will then look at a few crafts which many of us could access.

The benefits of crafting
There is a strong body of evidence suggesting that crafting benefits people in the following ways:

  • Decreases stress, anxiety and negative moods
  • Alleviates symptoms of depression
  • Helps people find perspective
  • Helps people develop coping abilities
  • Stimulates dopamine production
  • Enhances memory function in older people and reduce the risk of dementia
  • Improves motor functions (including people with Parkinson’s disease)

Additionally, the repetitive nature of crafts such as weaving or knitting, can be meditative, while absorption in an activity can help people to forget their worries and be in the ‘here and now’.

No wonder we feel good when crafting!

Photos: Nicola Strange

Nature + craft = BUSHCRAFT!
In earlier blogs focusing on research in Japan, North America and Europe the massive physical and mental health benefits of time in nature were highlighted. Physically, nature immersion results in measured reductions in stress-related diseases and increases the body’s ability to fight cancer and viruses. Meanwhile, nature generally makes people happier, more able to cope with difficulties and reduces the impacts of mental illnesses.

So, nature and crafting both have substantial mental health benefits. And of course, these can be combined perfectly with bushcraft! Explorations of woodlands and other wildish places can present opportunities for the collection of resources for many crafts. Crafting could take place at home or during a pleasant retreat in a beautiful setting.

Combining nature enjoyment and sustainably harvesting weaving materials (Photos Nicola Strange)
Combining nature enjoyment and sustainably harvesting weaving materials (Photos Nicola Strange)

Get crafting
I hope this is inspiring you to dig out an old craft or try something new. Easily accessible options include:

  • Sketching birds, insects or plants. This could be from photos, books or in the field. This will not only be an enjoyable activity in itself, but also help you identify species when you are out. There are also many nature colouring-in books aimed at adults available.
  • Collecting leaves etc. to create home-made greeting cards or a table centrepiece (which is particularly nice for a special occasion).

Our blog site has many ideas for you to try, some of which require a few simple tools, the collection of raw materials or procurement of cheap components:

Crafting a draughts set in the woods
– Photo: Nicola Strange

Personally, I like to have a craft to occupy winter evenings (which can nicely accompany a bit of Netflix). I try to make sure I have something set up in the day, as by evening I do not have enough brain to sort something out! I have lately become addicted to making pine needle baskets.

Photo: Nicola Strange

Remember, you don’t have to be ‘good’ at a craft to reap the benefits – we all start as a beginner and there is always more to learn! We would love to receive any questions regarding specific crafts or see photos of your work on our Facebook page.



Corkhill, Betsan & Hemmings, Jessica & Maddock, Angela & Riley, Jill. (2014). Knitting and Well-being. Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. 12. 10.2752/175183514×13916051793433.

Dagmar A. S. Corry, Christopher Alan Lewis & John Mallett (2014) Harnessing the Mental Health Benefits of the Creativity–Spirituality Construct: Introducing the Theory of Transformative Coping, Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 16:2, 89-110, DOI: 10.1080/19349637.2014.896854

Gutman, S.A. and Schindler, V.P. (2007), The neurological basis of occupation. Occup. Ther. Int., 14: 71-85. https://doi.org/10.1002/oti.225

Park, D. C., Lodi-Smith, J., Drew, L., Haber, S., Hebrank, A., Bischof, G. N., & Aamodt, W. (2014). The impact of sustained engagement on cognitive function in older adults: The Synapse Project. Psychological science, 25(1), 103–112. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613499592

Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. American journal of public health, 100(2), 254–263. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497

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