Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Elements of Crafts That Enhance Well-Being: Textile Craft Makers' Descriptions of Their Leisure Activity

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Elements of Crafts That Enhance Well-Being: Textile Craft Makers' Descriptions of Their Leisure Activity

Article excerpt


There is well-documented evidence that creative leisure activities contribute to the positive development and well-being of persons of all ages (e.g., Warner-Smith & Brown, 2002; Collier, 2011; Burt & Atkinson, 2012; Bailey & Fernando, 2012). According to Iso-Ahola and Mannell (2004), the opportunity to be involved in self-chosen leisure activity increases well-being and life satisfaction while also potentially reducing psychological discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Leisure activities may help to provide meaning by allowing individuals to have experiences of empowerment. The significance of meaningful leisure activities often becomes most clearly visible during periods of significant stress (Vrkljan & Miller-Polgar, 2001; Reynolds & Prior, 2006; Keponen & Kielhofner, 2006; Verbakel, 2013), during the later stages of life (Nilsson & Fisher, 2006; Reynolds, 2009; 2010) and when ones employment prospects, life options, or social network are limited (Ville, Ravaud, & Tetrafigap Group, 2001; Warner-Smith & Brown, 2002; Lloyd, Wong, & Petchkovsky, 2007; Griffiths & Corr, 2007).

Earlier studies have also shown that intensive participation in leisure activities has been associated with positive developmental outcomes and learning new skills (Reynolds, 2010; Verbakel, 2013). Furthermore, studies have shown that participation in leisure activities offered opportunities to express creativity and provided social connections (Henderson, Bialeschki, Shaw, & Freysinger, 1996; Gabriel & Bowling, 2004; Iwasaki, 2007). Thus, active leisure, according to Iso-Ahola and Mannell (2004), may enhance self-esteem and self-concept. McColl, Friedlander, and Kerr (1986) argued that leisure activities might have intrinsic properties that are revealed only as individuals engage in such activity, or as they describe their experiences related to it.

Verbakel (2013) demonstrated in her recent study that individuals in economically advanced societies highly value relaxation in their leisure activities. Results have also shown that leisure activities are associated with satisfaction in the realms of competence, relatedness, and autonomy (Leverson, Danielsen, Birkeland, & Samdal, 2012). Leisure activities are also seen as a significant means of promoting positive mental health and preventing problem behaviour (Casey, Ripke, & Huston, 2005).

Meaningful leisure activities appear to enhance well-being in that they foster hope and positive moods (Nilsson & Fisher, 2006; Collier, 2011). According to Csikszentmihalyi (1997), most of the activities that evoke these kinds of feelings are activities that provide a sense of "flow," a term used here to describe a state of optimal experience where one engages in an activity simply for the sake of the activity itself. Flow is thus characterized by complete absorption in what one does. During a flow-enhancing activity, individuals will push themselves to the limits of their capacity, both physically and mentally, to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Frankenhaeuser(1999) discussed the notion of den glada stressen (positive stress) to describe situations in which individuals are active, feel pleasure, and have influence over their own actions. These kinds of actions may be repetitive, regardless they still allow self-development.

According to Statistics Finland (2005), crafts represent one of the most popular self-chosen leisure activities in this country, and 67% of adults in the population report enjoying craft leisure activities. Furthermore, the interest in creative arts and crafts has increased over the years among adult females (Statistics Finland, 2005). Because craft making has remained a popular leisure activity in an economically advanced society like Finland, it is essential to develop our understanding of how it can contribute to craft makers' well-being. The purpose of this study is to understand the central meanings of craft making, as it is experienced and expressed in the craft makers' lives, in order to explain the reason why it has remained a popular leisure activity. …

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