The Benefits of Making
1. form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; create.
It is a great thing to create something greater than the sum of its parts, and at Pivot, we aim to make a difference. But how do we do this? Through the transformative and therapeutic power of making! We see the uplifting effect that our programmes and workshops have on our makers, but in case you’re unfamiliar with us, or the arts and crafts in general, we’d like to share with you some of the wholesome and holistic benefits of making.
1) Brain Power!
Studies have shown that the act of making and being creative is great way to maintain effective cognitive skills and healthy brain function. Many neuroscientists agree that performing a creative activity can be inducive of a ‘flow state’, a way in which we can engage in mindfulness. Doing so has significant neurological benefits, for both our brains and our minds.
“Practitioners engaging in intentional mindfulness appear to demonstrate both functional and structural differences from controls in this emotion regulation network, which correlate with behavioural differences in areas ranging from attentional abilities to psychological well-being.” - The Neuroscience of Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Alters the Brain and Facilitates Emotion Regulation, 2017.
Our minds and mental state can be affected by hormonal imbalances in our brains. Therefore, it is important to make sure our brains are ticking over nicely, keeping the happy hormones, like serotonin, flowing. Making is a great way of doing this, as it requires focus, attention, and concentration, which promotes the neuron stimulation associated with increased brain development. Making is very similar to a completing a puzzle in this way, as assembling all the pieces correctly takes a bit of figuring out and engaging in tasks like this is almost like taking our brains to the gym, keeping them sharp and active while helping to improve cognitive function. So, instead of an an app on your phone, why not give this type of brain-training a try!
Feeling stressed? In our busy world, it is particularly common to feel overly stressed and unable to relax. Stress can manifest itself within our bodies and brains, with a build-up of cortisol (stress hormone), and other such chemicals, harmful in large doses, having a negative effect on our physiological balance. Reducing stress, by engaging with calming and creative activities, helps to mitigate these negative influences, which in turn improves our mental state. This leads onto the next benefit that the act of making has to offer…
2) Positive Mental Wellbeing.
One incredibly important benefit of engaging in creative activities is the positive impact on mental health. One of our makers, Makbule, who has been through our programmes and now leads workshops for us, has told us just how helpful the programme has been to her in this regard, and it’s a similar story with many of our other graduates.
“While I was doing Pivot, I was keeping my mind busy, not thinking other things, negative things that will impact my health”
Regularly engaging in art and creative activities, like gardening, playing an instrument, cooking and yes, jewellery making, is extremely helpful in maintaining a positive mental state, the mood-boosting effects of which are well recognised for their ability to alleviate some of the worse symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and stress.
The BBC Arts Great British Creativity Test, published in May 2019, surveyed 50,000 people, in which, 75% of participants said they used creative activities as a "distraction tool" to block out stress and anxiety and 69% as a ‘self-development tool’, to build up self-esteem and inner strength - Getting creative really does boost your mood, survey suggests, BBC News 2019.
To give patients receiving treatment for these illnesses some relief, craft courses have long been prescribed as a form of therapy, and crafting has been proven to have great confidence-boosting qualities in addition to improving an individuals’ mood. The life changing effect of having just a little bit more confidence is quite amazing, with many, who had previously struggled to do so, finding it easier to imagine a different future for themselves, and new possibilities. The act of making can encourage someone to have a better outlook on life, and so help them to feel that there is more they are able to achieve, and for our own makers, we’ve witnessed this personally.
3) Making Connections.
When we make, we connect. Every workshop we hold brings people together, who share in the sense of joy and achievement brought about by helping others. We think that’s a beautiful thing. Being in a comfortable group setting with people who are working well together is always a positive experience, and we hear as much from our feedback forms! During the sessions, we like to promote discussion on the issue of homelessness. We explain what we do at Pivot and why we do it, and we see how satisfying it is for our participants to talk about and engage with an issue that matters to them, while making their own small contribution toward fixing it. When we get together like this, our feelings of mutual cooperation and empathy towards others develop, which we at pivot believe help us to live happier lives as individuals.
“I would definitely recommend this to a friend, it was just a really nice afternoon, and meeting new people and having a chat with everyone about Pivot was lovely”
Over the few years we’ve been active, we have helped to build a community that represents forgotten voices and empower those experiencing homelessness, and in the process, we have worked with 13 other homelessness services and received over 95 (and counting!) mentions in the press. We like to stay in contact with everyone we’ve interacted with and have developed a network of people from among graduates of our programmes, the public who attend our workshops and other contemporary social enterprises. This way, the collective will to push for ethical solutions to systemic problems is upheld and sustained and you can take pride in knowing that by making with us, you’ll be a part of this wider, communal project. To us, this unity, this togetherness, this participation - this is what true empowerment is all about.
Another lovely quote from Makbule sums up our ethos in one sentence.
“I want to do something that is beneficial, not just for me, but for people around me.”
If you’d like to experience these incredible positives for yourself, please have a look at our upcoming events and sign up to our newsletter, or follow us on social media to keep up to date on all the great things we’re making at Pivot!