Latch hooking is like many handicrafts: it may seem just like a repetitive chore, busy work and unexciting. These same reasons, however, make the craft an excellent mindfulness technique for kids and adults– a way to forestall anxiety and promote relaxation.
“Mindfulness” refers to the act of being fully present in the moment, without exerting judgement or control. This helps us slow down to accept things as they are, giving ourselves moments to process and respond to a situation, instead of reacting impulsively. The act of mindfulness has been linked to increased resilience, stress relief and boosting working memory. Knitting, which shares many of the repetitive qualities of latch hook (not to mention the material of yarn), has actually been studied widely as a way to reduce anxiety with positive results.
Latch hooking, and other handicrafts, rely on the slow accumulation of your work to complete the final project. This physical manifestation of your dedication and perseverance builds confidence in your skills, often propelling you to continue working. When you allow the mind to lightly focus on one unchallenging activity (selecting the correct color for the square, tying it to the canvas, repeat), getting into the rhythm feels like meditation. The mind is not completely free to wander when latch hooking, reducing rumination on unpleasant feelings or thoughts, however the act of latch hooking is not so challenging as to leave you drained after a session. More likely, you will feel relaxed and confident after spending some time with your project.
As someone who suffers from all the modern anxieties– an addiction to doom scrolling on Twitter, constant shame about the state of my housekeeping, etc– latch hooking and other handicrafts have been vital for me to just chill out. I love to listen to a podcast and latch hook or embroider at the same time, leaving no room for rumination left in my head. I’ve found that dividing my attention visually between a project and the tv isn’t easy, so no subtitles or dazzling cinematography for my crafting sessions. I’d rather put on some lightly engaging television or a movie I have already seen. When making many, many samples for our zodiac kit, I fell deep into an ongoing series on Youtube that examined a particular designer’s runway shows, which has a great balance of visual elements that I could glance up to see, and detailed, insightful narration.
Handicrafts don’t have to be done alone, either. Carrying on a conversation with a friend is just as easy with a project in your hands and I’ve certainly taken my embroidery bag to the bar. Working on something in public can be a good conversation starter if you are looking for crafty friends. Teaching a new skill to a friend, or learning one together, can strengthen a relationship.
So, is latch hooking good for you? Yes! Latch hooking is another way to practice mindfulness, while also creating something beautiful and unique. For those of us who have restless minds, keeping our hands busy can help calm racing thoughts, build confidence and improve our well-being. Crafting is good for your mental health!
If you are interested in learning how to latch hook, or looking for a good mindfulness activity for children, our small pencil kit is a great introduction to the craft.