Challenge yourself and get a healthier brain

Mom & daughter crafting.jpgAs someone who is not talented with craft-related arts like knitting or sewing, I can definitely report feeling the benefits of doing these activities anyway. Whenever my daughter and I set out to make something, I find the process very rewarding, even if the finished project looks nothing like the one pictured in the example!

That shouldn’t be a surprise. Engaging in a variety of craft-related activities has long been associated with the benefits of stress reduction, building self-esteem, increased relaxation, improved motor skills and an increase in self efficacy.

But what may be surprising is the idea that challenging your mind with activities outside of your normal routine can lead to a healthier brain. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon and Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, explained in a recent NPR Fresh Air interview that "the act of experiencing something new—or even doing something that's typical for you, but in a different way—can all generate these new brain cells. We want to constantly be using new paths and trails and roads within our brain."

It feels both encouraging and liberating to know that regardless of our stage of life, we can try new things without fear of failure, and in the process enhance our brain health. Dr. Gupta writes more about this and other recommendations for brain health in his new book Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age.

For more titles on this topic—and for a wide range of titles on crafting—browse our catalog.

If you'd like to pick up some crafts or crafting ideas from staff, check out a Take & Make kit or tune into CADL's Craft Corner!

Cheryl Lindemann is a collection development specialist at Capital Area District Libraries, and a co-host of the Reader’s Roundtable Podcast.