Investigating the benefits, and mechanisms, of creative activities for wellbeing

My research focuses on how creative activities and hobbies can influence wellbeing in the general population.

Music yarn

Craft

Many of the reports and publications making the link between craft and wellbeing are subjective reports and have not been peer-reviewed. What peer-reviewed evidence is available has been based on questionnaires and qualitative interview studies. Whilst the popularity of these reports is clear, there have been no empirical studies conducted to support them.

Public Engagement

The Yarnfulness Project was designed to conduct high-quality public engagement and involvement, aimed at developing research projects with the public. There has been a recent trend in the news and online media reporting on the positive benefits of creative activities, such as knitting and crochet. The benefits cited are the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing, through relaxation and social factors. The benefits of these activities have been compared to those of mindfulness and meditation, due to the rhythmic, calming nature of such crafts.

Research collaborations

Craft and Trauma

Crafting Heritage for Well-being in Iraq – British Academy Funded Project This project will explore the nexus of crafting, heritage and well-being for survivors of conflict in Iraq, which has one psychiatric hospital for 38 million people. It brings together a team with interdisciplinary expertise in arts, heritage and psychology in the UK and Iraq. The project will be co-produced, driven by the team and local participants in collaboration, to ensure the outcomes are relevant and beneficial to Iraq and reflect Iraq’s complex, often intersectional, societal needs. A key aim is to create a robust evidence-base for arts and crafts in improving personal and social well-being. We wish to demonstrate to Iraqi stakeholders and policy makers that such reflective practices play a critical role in fragile post-conflict contexts. We want to determine specific ways that engaging with heritage through craft has potential to rebuild the personal and social well-being and dignity that are key to underpinning sustainable, inclusive peace in Iraq.

Craft and Wellbeing

In collaboration with University of Southampton’s Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy) team, and members of the public, I plan to investigate the effects of crafting on wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as the effects on student wellbeing.

Further work will look at the effects of craft on healthcare workers wellbeing.

Music

In collaboration with ROLI we are researching how engaging with music in different ways might influence wellbeing in the general population.

We have initially conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the relationship between engagement with music and wellbeing in a sample of adults before the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic (in 2019) and during the initial lockdown restrictions in March-June 2020.

Our second study plans to utilise an existing database to investigate how music engagement at a young age may predict wellbeing during adolescence.