How crafting can help people with PTSD
The therapeutic values of arts and crafts projects are well known. For centuries, people of all ages have found it relaxing to focus on using their hands and imaginations to create both practical and aesthetic items.
Weaving, pottery, carving and ceramic painting – for example – also bring a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
However, crafting is particularly beneficial when used to address the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The journey matters more than the destination
In a way, the final outcome is immaterial. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. Using craft projects to manage PTSD involves engaging with a pastime that paradoxically fully engages you, and distracts you at the same time.
Also, crafting is a great therapeutic aid as it’s so universal. There are diverse projects available to try, and it’s easy to deliver anywhere. You can craft alone at home, outdoors, with a coach or therapist or within a support group for PTSD.
It’s also possible to do crafting with your partner, children or other family members, as a bonding exercise.
Losing yourself in an achievable crafting project
Projects such as basket weaving were first used to treat PTSD in the days when it was solely associated with active combat and being ‘shellshocked’.
Now, arts and crafts are a recognised form of relaxation for people with a range of mental health issues. The process of crafting is often about repetition and gentle moves, such as weaving, beading and shaping materials. Focusing on this can be wonderfully soothing.
While crafting, you lose yourself in a creative task. People with PTSD sometimes find this calms some of their anxieties and hypervigilance.
Creating a safe space
When you transfer all your attention into something new, creative and evolving, it also provides you with a safe space, removing you from situations or your own negative thoughts.
Some people even find they open up more about their traumas if they are partially occupied by a craft project they enjoy. They can dip in and out of tough conversations, using the project as a control mechanism for escalating anxiety.
Value of crafting as a group endeavour
Doing crafting with others can be an excellent icebreaker and leveller. It establishes a shared goal and opportunities for easy social interaction.
Crafting also offers opportunities to give and receive positive affirmations. Whether projects are solo or joint initiatives.
First step to using crafting for PTSD
A vital element of using crafting to address the symptoms of PTSD is managing expectations. The emphasis must be on fun and free expression, not the pursuit of perfection!
Though some people using crafting to alleviate anxiety enjoy having a clear set of instructions, and a series of steps to follow to complete their work, experimentation is often needed to find the craft project that works best for each individual.
Try weaving and raise money for PTSD UK
Would you like to see how crafting can help people with PTSD?
The Liverpool Weaving company is generously donating 5% of sales from its Frame Loom Start Weaving Kit to PTSD UK.
This beautiful British made loom comes with 5 high-quality hand-tied yarn bundles, and full instructions to create hours of relaxation and colourful woven items.
It’s important to note, that while choosing your PTSD recovery path you need to address both the symptoms and the underlying condition. NICE guidance updated in 2018 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
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Treatments for PTSD
It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.