By Josh Redd, DC on January 3, 2020
Most people today spend many hours a day looking at a screen —at least half their lives now. This excess of screen time is now linked with myriad health disorders, including brain development problems in children and progressively worsening mood, focus, and isolation in adults. Excess screen time is also linked to depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety.
Obviously, we should spend less time in front of screens. But in addition to them being where our jobs happen for many of us, screen time has also proven to be addictive.
Is there a solution? Studies show spending time working with your hands-on crafts and hobbies improves the health of your brain and body. If you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid, this can be a fun way to help manage your autoimmune thyroid condition.
Crafts such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, woodworking, tinkering, and more can impart the same brain health benefits as meditation and mindfulness.
For instance, research shows regular knitters report the craft makes them happier and more relaxed. The more often you knit, the greater the benefit.
People who knit or do some other craft in a group with others reported even greater levels of happiness thanks to the scientifically proven benefits of socialization.
Knitting has been shown to help those with anorexia nervous get relief from obsessive, ruminating thoughts about food and their weight and to feel more relaxed.
Oncology nurses reported reduced compassion fatigue and stress from knitting.
People suffering from chronic fatigue, depression, and other chronic health disorders also found they felt more positive and increased well-being when they knit regularly.
Men are not left out of the loop, as knitting and other textile crafts are primarily associated with women. Conventionally male crafts, like woodworking, repair jobs, and “tinkering” deliver the same benefits.
It is believed crafting improves our health by allowing us to slide into a “flow state.”
Working with your hands is great for the brain. Especially these days in an era when most of us use our hands primarily for texting, typing, and swiping.
Craftwork activates long-dormant areas of the brain — a substantial portion of the brain’s “real estate” is devoted to the hands and fingers. By activating the “hands” area more vigorously, this improves the overall activity in the rest of the brain, thus improving overall brain health.
Working with your hands also boosts reward circuits in your brain, which releases brain chemicals that improve motivation and self-esteem and help prevent or relieve depression.
Craftwork requires you to engage your memory and learning centers, which keeps the mind sharper. Also, engaged the brain in a mindful manner frees up the cognitive centers to relaxed. This is not only relaxing, but it also opens the door to bursts of insight, problem-solving, and creative inspiration.
Knitting, woodworking, scrapbooking, and other crafts may seem like an unusual tool for help in managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid and other autoimmune diseases, however, the physical and mental benefits of crafting makes it an excellent alternative to screen time.