Stressed out? Don’t reach for a cigarette, the cookie jar, or that bottle of wine that could later lead to more stress. Instead, reach for a ball of yarn or your favorite needlecraft.
If you’re looking for ways to unwind after a hectic day there’s nothing quite like knitting, crocheting, and cross-stitching, to calm you down. In today’s hectic world few things help us women (or men) relax more than needlecrafts. I’m not quite sure how it works. I just know that working with embroidery needles, thread, knitting needles, and crochet hooks helps me unwind whenever I’m stressed.
As for knitting, there’s something about the clicking of the knitting needles that’s as soothing as the sound of a “humming” fan that puts me to sleep at night. Maybe it’s the repetitiveness that soothes me. And today knitting isn’t just for grannies confined to rocking chairs. You see executives (even CEOs) knitting on airplanes, during their lunch hours and coffee breaks.
Basket weaving is another craft that helps with stress. Interestingly enough, basket weaving was conventionally used for mentally ill people. In fact, I have a friend who suffers from bipolar disorder who says that weaving has helped her with mood swings.
Crocheting also has therapeutic benefits. Almost ten years ago, my husband’s elderly aunt fell and broke her hip. When she had to be confined to a wheelchair and spend the rest of her life in a nursing home, she refused to feel sorry for herself. Instead, this 95-year-old great grandmother still keeps busy crocheting beautiful blankets for her family.
As for cross-stitching, I personally receive a feeling of self-worth from creating something out of nothing. Just as a painter starts out with a blank canvas, a cross-stitcher takes a piece of plain fabric and, square by square, fashions a work of art that can be passed down for centuries. If you enjoy puzzles, you’ll probably like cross-stitching as it’s done one square (just as one piece) at a time. And, even better than working puzzles, you don’t have to unscramble it.
I asked a few of my fellow cross-stitchers at the 1-2-3 Cross Stitch Message Board how stitching helps them to de-stress. Here are some of their responses….
It gives me quiet time to be with myself. I have one thing to focus on—the rhythm of the stitching is like a physical mantra for me at times. I cross stitch while watching TV a lot but even then I’m relaxed, happy to be stitching and creating. :)udi
By concentrating on the stitching, it helps block out the cause of the stress. It also gives me a feeling of accomplishment as I have something concrete where I can see a difference. To me it is similar to mowing the lawn! Patty
I like stitching to de-stress – It’s calming and sometimes one of few things I can be in control of. It soothes my psyche and also allows me to feel productive because I can see my progress on something of value. It also allows me to contemplate my thoughts so if I’m working on a complex document; I often mull it over while stitching to clarify my thoughts. So I guess it’s a bit escapist, too – somewhere I can go and hide from the world. Sandra
Stitching allows me to have some control over how I spend my time. I work 3 jobs…1 full time 5 days a week and 2 part time everyday, so I don’t have a lot of time to stitch or read, both of which I enjoy but stitching seems to be the most calming. I find that even if I don’t have time to stitch, just thinking about the piece I’m working on and picturing the next area to be worked helps de-stress my life. If I go for a long time without stitching I tend to get really uptight and cranky so whenever I get that way my brother reminds me to stitch or think about it. BJ
I call my stitching my “sanity saver”. When my brother passed away, I went through several years of depression (not medically diagnosed, but I was depressed nonetheless), and the only thing that kept me sane was my stitching. I found that I had to concentrate so much on what I was doing that I temporarily forgot my woes and felt great. Then when the depression finally lifted, I found it hard to not stitch and collect stash. Since that time, I think the longest period I went without stitching was about six months. Now, I try to stitch at 15 minutes (at the VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY minimum) every day. Maggie in Western Australia
My stitching is the first thing I grab if I’m upset or stressed out. It relaxes me and I can think things out. I try not to pick up anything complicated though. I’m most likely to work on a monochrome pattern. At night after all of my work and “mom” duties are done, I look forward to the time I spend with my needle and threads. Sheri
Although most cross-stitchers are thrilled to finally fill in that very last square on their project, for others, there’s also a sadness that ‘it’s over.” They’ll tell you that the joy is in the journey. However, that only means one thing—time to start thinking about the next project!