Crafty Ways to a Healthier Brain

Knit in PublicWeekCaptureIn case you didn’t know – this week is National Knit in Public Week! Now if you’re not a knitter, it’s possible you weren’t aware of this groovy cool week. El can attest to how cool it is to bump into a group of knitters that have met up in a local establishment for the fellowship of sitting and knitting (another type of yarn bombing). Despite my preference for knitting (hot pants and all), this type of activity got me researching just how good creative outlets are for us, especially as we age. We all know crafts and art are great to get kids thinking in different ways; problem solving skills get such good exercise when one has to figure out how to construct something or figure out how to correct an error. It turns out, these creative processes are very good for keeping our minds active, holding off cerebral atrophy and significantly delaying dementia. I say pour that cup of coffee and get started on the crafting!

Here’s good reason for doing things that are fun, require us to learn something new and think outside the box.

  • Research now shows that our brains are flexible and can adapt to our environment, even in old age — a concept called neuroplasticity.
  • The link between creativity and better mental and physical health is well established by research. Creating helps make people happier, less anxious, more resilient and better equipped to problem-solve in the face of hardship.

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  • Playing games, reading books and crafting could reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 50%, according to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry.
  • Crafting involves many different areas of your brain. It can work your memory and attention span while involving your visuospatial processing, creative side and problem-solving abilities.

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  •  Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at Harvard’s Technology & Entrepreneurship Center, recommends continuing to study things that you care about and developing an area of expertise, inside or outside a formal classroom setting. Find teachers who are passionate and make a sustained effort over time to master your own interests.
  •  Don’t be afraid to fail. We learn some of our most valuable lessons from failure — probably much more than from our successes. You can’t pursue passion and purpose without a great deal of trial and error and multiple failures.

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2 comments

  1. I would love to, and have been trying to learn to speak Italian fluently, or at least to the point of being able to understand all that is said. I have been using various means to accomplish this beautiful language. It started before we went to Italy in 2002 to visit my mother-in-law’s family. I thought I did well in the class, I had tapes, work books and a Italian English dictionary. The only thing I did not count on was the fact that Italian’s speak at the speed of sound. So my lessons continue although they are sporadic now as time does not let me study as much as I should, or would like to. There are several passages in my book “The Italian Thing.” It will keep you laughing with delight, meeting the family (there are 26 photographs of our trip) and joining in the adventures and misadventures that we encountered. You can take a peek on my blog at http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com or visit Amazon.com Life is very different across the pond. :o)

    1. Learning another language has been on my ‘to-do’ list for far too long. I hear you loud and clear on the classroom vs. real time. My daughter studied Spanish in high school and college and we were quite impressed with her mastery. She left for several months of study in Peru and was instantly schooled on how fast local people speak their native tongue – she was so disappointed in her initial conversations. By the time we picked her up after her months there, she was rattling it off in between her English – we were the ones left to wonder what she had just said! I am always impressed with those that can speak more than just their native tongues. I look forward to checking out your blog Patricia! – M

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