I am a firm believer in alternative therapies for mental wellbeing whether they are used alongside traditional therapies or not.
When I started making soap I realised that it is a great way to escape from the everyday stresses and strains of life. In fact, creative therapies have been found to assist in the recovery from mental distress or a traumatic life event. Research has shown that creativity can decrease stress and relieve anxiety. I started making soap soon after I had finished my cancer treatment and it has played a part in helping me deal with the psychological effects of my illness.
Although there hasn’t been a great deal of research carried out on the psychological benefits of making things by hand or crafting, experts say that it can help with anxiety and depression. In addition, it can ease stress, promote happiness and make you smile which makes you feel good.
All this might come as a surprise to some, but we cannot underestimate the use of our creative side and the benefits it can bring to our lives.
It’s Like Alternative Meditation!
When you take time out to focus on the process of creation you become deeply absorbed in the task and zone out which is a form of meditation.
Making soap is a very methodical process and requires your full concentration on the task in hand. You forget everything else that is going on in your life and nothing else seems to matter at that moment in time. It allows you some rare time to step outside your normal routine.
The distinguished Professor of Psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is known for his research on a concept he describes as flow. This is where you are completely absorbed by an activity and you forget all the other ‘stuff’ going on in your life. It is a wonderful place to be and I ‘flow’ with each batch of soap that I create.
You Will Experience A Natural High!
When you indulge in an activity that makes you happy your brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. It is a chemical that makes us feel good and it is responsible for ‘runners high,’ which probably explains my addiction to running!
Dopamine is responsible for making you feel motivated, energised and generally provides your zest for life. Without this important chemical you would feel pretty rubbish.
It’s not just about the process of creation either. Once you have created your own soap you feel a real sense of achievement that you have made something that not only looks gorgeous but is also useful. If you share your creations with loved ones and they sing your praises this reinforces the feel-good factor and you want to make more soap. Be warned - making soap is very addictive!
It’s A Great Brain Workout!
Getting creative is also good for your brain. Think of it as brain exercise. Creating involves many different areas of your brain so it can provide a thorough workout for your attention span, creative side, memory and problem-solving abilities. Soap making is great for all these things because you can formulate your own recipes, calculate your ingredients and you can be as creative as you want to be.
Scientists have only recently started to study leisure activities' impact on the brain. According to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry crafting could reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 50%.
There are so many psychological benefits to unleashing your creative side. If you fancy trying your hand at soap making and tapping into your creativity you might be pleasantly surprised to find that the process may boost your wellbeing.