Looking at the vast tangle of paracord before me and the instructional video that I’d pulled up on my laptop I felt noticeably panicked.
Although I count myself as a creative person I’ve never been the best at following step-by-step instructions and my anxiety was high at the prospect of turning the materials in front of me in to some form of functioning kink item. Pixie’s instructions were clear and concise but that did little to quench my inner anxiety. That is until I actually started crafting my Figure-8 Handcuffs…
The moment I began to do so I realised just how rhythmic and reliable the motions were. How simple it was to get lost in the moment—enjoying the flow of it all. It made it all the more satisfying when Mr. Peaches took my beautifully assembled finished product and secured them firmly around my wrists.
At the time the feeling was relatively new to me, but now I recognise it for what it truly was. In fact it’s the same feeling that Girl on the Net described in her DIY Sex Toy post:
… when I make things I like to have headspace. I like to sit—maybe with music or Radio 4 playing—and get intensely involved in the project.
There is no mistaking this moment in time for anyone who manages to carve it out for themselves (or for those who covet in when life becomes too hectic). It’s the undeniable sensation of relaxation and it’s one of the huge benefits that can come from crafting.
Much like myself, you may not consider the idea of starting an ambitiously large or intricately woven DIY craft project a particularly relaxing endeavour, but academia is on the side of crafting when it comes to its many therapeutic applications.
While studies on crafting are still only just emerging there’s evidence to suggest that crafting can help with an array of mental health issues—such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
crafting can help with an array of mental health issuesClick To Tweet
A survey from knitting therapist, Betsan Corkhill seems to back this up.
Corkhill surveyed 3,545 knitters and found that over half of them suggested that they knitted specifically for relaxation and stress relief. Those in the study who knitted more frequently also reported feeling calmer, less anxious, and more confident.
Why is this? Some therapists and neurologists have linked the repetitive, semi-focused action of crafting to activities such as mindfulness or meditation. These practices allow the mind to engage in somewhat of an active form of relaxation—able to simply enjoy the moment without exerting too much pressure or giving much thought to anything outside of the activity at hand and this translates to crafting too.
Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has his own description for this particular state of mind. Coining the term ‘flow’ in a 2004 TED Talk, Csíkszentmihályi explains that when a human being engages in certain activities they trigger a state called ‘flow’. During such times “we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life … sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger”. Indeed, carving out time to engage in a purely therapeutic and self-nurturing activity is one of the very first things that many cognitive behavioural therapists will recommend for their clients. Some may find this calm in yoga, others in breathing exercises, and some in the flowing state of a craft project.
The Value of Flow Elsewhere
Reducing one’s overall levels of stress and finding a happiness boost have obvious implications in everyday life, but what about in the bedroom?
Typically we think of sex as the height of passion. Sex causes the heart beat to increase, the body to sweat, and the mind to race. Hardly what we picture when we think of a ‘zen’ state of mind. But (believe it or not) relaxation is actually crucial to positive sexual activities.
Certain sexual dysfunctions, for example, are directly linked to an individual’s anxiety and/or inability to relax. Vaginismus, for example, is a condition in which the vaginal muscles clench upon attempted penetration, making the action extremely painful or impossible.
But, surprise, surprise, one of the key components of recovering from Vaginusmus is to learn how to relax while using dilators to train the muscles of the vagina to do the same. In this way relaxation practices can literally be the difference between a pleasurable sex session and no sex at all for some people.
Performance anxiety is another form of sexual tension that can benefit from learning how to let go and live in the moment. And (on a more general note) most of us don’t feel up to getting our groove on if we’re feeling stressed or lacking in personal space.
All of this means that relaxation tactics are very significant tools to apply before, during, and after sex, with crafting acting as one method to achieve this.
Adding the ‘Kink’ to Crafting
In theory crafting and sex go together like a hand and a self-knitted pair of gloves, but how do we combine the two in a way that feels natural and allows the benefits of flow to carry through?
One option is obviously to create your own DIY sex toys which you then bring in to the bedroom. Associated with the memory of the crafting experience, such objects can often be calming by proxy—reminding us of the tranquil state of mind we achieved when making them.
If you’re in to a more practical form of flow then it might be worth looking in to Shibari and other forms of rope bondage. Taking the time to bind a partner’s body in intricate knot displays is a true example of craft in motion and can certainly bring about a state of flow for some.
If this interests you then I highly recommend Roni Jacobson’s article, Can Bondage Play Reduce Anxiety? After reading this post, the similarities between ‘rope space’ and ‘flow’ should be immediately apparent.
similarities between ‘rope space’ and ‘flow’ should be immediately apparentClick To Tweet
When it comes to after care and crafting any crafting activity should increase relaxation but doing something together might feel more loving and intimate. Perhaps sitting down to craft an item for your next sexual excursion? I hear floggers are a very fulfilling craft project…
Where Will Your Craft Take You?
For me making my Kink Craft Handcuffs was enough to remind me of just how wonderful sitting and crafting can be, and this was something that I could easily then remind myself of whenever I wore them in the bedroom. But this naturally won’t work for everyone.
We all have our own individual craft preferences and our own ways of expression ourselves. Perhaps for you making wonderfully eccentric nipple pasties will be the path to your crafting success? Or maybe even learning how to responsibly engage in suspension play?
Whatever the nature of your own personal project make sure to embrace the experience and give yourself fully to the craft at hand. It is in this moment that you may just discover the therapeutic benefits of crafting for yourself.