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Hobbies, like woodworking, have been shown to improve mental wellness by helping reduce negative emotions like stress, anxiety, depression, etc. They do this by giving your mind a break from whatever problems you may be facing and by grounding you in the basic need of staying active and having fun. Whether you woodwork to unwind after a long workday or just to keep your hands busy, there really is something therapeutic about it. There’s the sensory satisfaction: the sound of a plane taking shavings or the feel of a joint locking together, but also the mental satisfaction. From planning a project to being able to say, “I built that”. It brings peace, joy, and the feeling of accomplishment.

Hobbies are even more effective in helping mental wellness when you have friends who are also involved in the craft. Looking at woodworking specifically, we run into a few issues with this as the chosen hobby.

First, woodworking is complex and not always easy to learn on your own. Second, we are usually alone in our shops and don’t have friends who are interested in the craft. That’s why I’ve created Plane Wellness, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit aiming to change that by offering affordable woodworking courses for all, and free woodworking courses to individuals with a mental health diagnosis, physical disability, or who are a disabled veteran. We also want to bring fellow woodworkers together to form friendships and build a community.

Plane Wellness courses are currently being offered virtually; however, the ultimate goal is to build a retreat facility where individuals can stay on site, woodwork during the day, enjoy meals together, and have campfires at night. We also hope to build an event center to host craft shows, tool swaps, and other activities to bring individuals together.

Our goal is to help spread the peace and joy that we find in woodworking with more people to ultimately improve their mental wellness. –Jamie Harpster

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