AS and flares go hand in hand
Flares need no introduction: a frequent and annoying part of life for almost everyone with AS (and as common as once a week for 70% of people in one survey).1 From localised pain, fatigue and immobility to more severe symptoms across your whole body: wherever they happen, flares can put normal life on hold.2
As well as the physical symptoms, flares can have a psychological impact too, including anxiety and depression in some cases.3 While your doctor is the best source of help, staying occupied and positive around (and during) flares should be an important way of keeping on top of AS.
That’s why Craftsy is the featured app for this post, offering 100s of creative ways to take on a new hobby in a way that works around whatever life – and AS – throws at you.
An abundance of choices
Available for Android and Apple phones, the Craftsy app is bursting with potential hobbies to learn wherever and whenever the mood takes you.
If being ‘creative’ doesn’t sound like your thing (especially during a flare), don’t be put off. With the choice on offer, you’ll find it hard not to find something that sparks your interest. Photography, jewellery, cooking, even origami: the full list of topics would take up half this post and still not cover everything on offer.
Craftsy, in their own words, aims to “provide education and tools to help you bring your creativity to life.”4 They’re true to their word: scores of downloadable classes to work through at your own pace. These take the form of a series of 20–30-minute videos from seasoned instructors (their credentials are on the site, along with user reviews) taking you step by step through a variety of techniques on a chosen topic. There’s even an online ‘classroom’ where you can ask your instructor questions and get feedback. Craftsy offers all the pros of joining a class without the hassle of actually having to go to one – it’s on your terms.
It’s not just the lessons that work for you: kits accompany many of the courses, as well as general craft supplies. These can be bought and shipped to your home or work from Craftsy HQ in the US across North America, Western Europe and Australia.
For free and for everyone
Although the kits and much of the content do cost money, there’s still lots on the app that won’t cost a penny. Downloading and signup is free and the app has a large free section too, with taster courses to whet creative appetites.
Heading to the main website, it’s obvious that the app is just the tip of an enormous craft iceberg. It’s also home to a lot more free stuff too – including a blog (updated daily) crammed with 660 pages (and counting) of inspiration. With sections covering photography, drawing, gardening and cookery, there are classes to suit all tastes and lifestyles.
Where could Craftsy take you?
The beauty of Craftsy – and the reason it’s been featured here – is the choice it offers you. Not just the choice of hobby you try, but also the choice to learn at a pace and time that suits you and your AS.
If you have the inclination (and the money), you can go ‘totally Craftsy’ – choosing to learn at home, around (or during) your flares. The app could act as a stand-in for the course at your local adult education center that you were itching to do but never felt you could risk, in case a flare kept you from going to a class. For others, the opposite might be true: Craftsy could offer the inspiration to find a course near you and sign up. It all depends on you, your AS and what takes your fancy.
Get a wider audience
Should the ‘craft bug’ really bite hard, there’s always Facebook and Instagram to show off the fruits of your labors to your online community. Pinterest has a huge DIY & Crafts section, where your talents can find a wider (and more receptive) audience. You could even turn a flare into a money-spinner by selling your homemade products on craft sites like Etsy. There are loads of ways to make your new hobby a social one, even if you’re learning it at home.
We know that flare-ups can be tough and we’re not suggesting Craftsy – or any app for that matter – is going to solve every problem you’ll encounter. What we do hope is, whether by browsing other people’s creations or learning how to make gnocchi like a pro, the flexibility and choice offered by Craftsy (plus the sheer pleasure of a new hobby) is something that could really inspire you. Good luck!
This article was written by one of the resident experts at ThisASLife.com. A social site, helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.
1. Cooksey R et al. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2010; 49:929–932.
2. Brophy S, Calin A. J Rheumatology (Oxford) 2002; 29:954–958.
3. Cooksey R et al. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2015; 54: 1563-1572.
4. http://www.craftsy.com/about Last accessed August 2015.