A surefire way to reduce anxiety, worry and stress

Recovering soldiers knitting

Recovering soldiers knitting

Before I started homeschooling my daughter in the 7th grade,  I was never anxious for her to go back to school after summer break.  She is in her last year of college and I find I have not changed.  After Christmas this year she was ready to rush back to school and three more weeks of winter break.

She lives off campus in an international house where she is very happy.  I however, was somewhat crushed to see her run off.  After the busyness of the holidays and traveling, I felt as though I had hardly spent any one-on-one time with her.  Seeing my disappointment she decided to stay a little longer and spend some quality time with mom.

IMG_3250

My daughter, paddling off…..

I was grateful to have her all to myself for a little while.  While we were in my sewing room she began to complain about me not making her anything.  Mind you, I have made this girl a twin quilt, a scrap quilt, a full size quilt for college and numerous other smaller items.  I told her, find something you like, I’ll make it.  Within minutes she found a lovely pattern in my new quilt magazine Primitive Quilts and Projects.  With her birthday just three weeks away I had to get right to work.  She picked out some flannel and wool she liked and I was off and running as soon as she left for school.

This project took my mind off the fact that she was cutting the apron strings a little more.  I think she was subconsciously preparing us, herself included, for the day she will leave on a year-long internship (if all goes according to planned) or move out on her own.  It is coming soon and rightly so, we trained her for this, but it does not make it any easier.

Ahhh, but the project, the lovely project, working with soft wool and flannel was so soothing.  Tracing the pieces , ironing them onto the wool, cutting them out, all quieting thoughts about an uncertain future.  Then the sewing, stitch after stitch, repetitive but relaxing.   I know not everyone would find this enjoyable.  You may even think I am crazy.  The fact remains and it has been proven, that creating something is a way to get good feelings flowing .  It is a way to soothe and calm the soul.this is your brain on crafts small

In her article This is your brain on crafts,  writer and embroidery artist Lisa Borgnes-Giramonti explores this very subject.  I found it very interesting that in WW I soldiers were taught to knit  as therapy.

ca. 1918-1919, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, USA — Bed-ridden wounded knit to help pass the time. Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, ca. 1918-1919. — Image by © CORBIS

ca. 1918-1919, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, USA — Bed-ridden wounded knit to help pass the time. Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, ca. 1918-1919. — Image by © CORBIS

Let me highlight a few main points from the article for you:

  • Psychologist Robert Reiner says, “crafting can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and even improve sleep.”
  • Reiner says, “your breathing takes on a regular pattern, which shuts down the body’s anxiety-producing fight-or-flight response.”
  • Psychologist Robert Maurer says ” When the mid-brain is engaged by repetitive movement ….the temporal lobe is unable to focus on worry or stress.  The cortex which controls conscious thought becomes quiet and peaceful.”
  • Stitchlinks in the UK organizes knitting groups for people dealing with depression and other health issues.  The director, Betsan Corkhill says, “When concentrating on a pattern, you’re required to be so present in the moment that you can’t worry about the future. Even physical pain fades into the background.”

Some testimonial quotes from Stitchlinks:

  • “I am convinced that the repetitive meditative and creative aspects of knitting was what has gently helped me back into a more fulfilling life. I have absolutely no doubt that knitting daily for over six months ‘reset’ my brain in some way….
  • “It is so meditative. I sit and knit and am lost in my own quiet world. It brings me an enormous boost in self-esteem, making beautiful garments, bags and shawls that people praise.”
  • “Knitting requires me to think creatively, to plan, prepare, organise, co-ordinate and control just one small aspect of my life. Then any other changes are manageable.”
  • “On a bad day, I can think about projects. On a good day, I can work towards realising them.”
  • You can go HERE for many other uplifting testimonial quotes.

A few more interesting facts to keep in mind:

  • If you have struggled with the solution to a problem or with trying to recall something, taking a break to craft may provide the distraction your brain needs to find the answer on its own.
  • Giving away your creation provides addition pleasure.
  • For all of us with unfinished projects, it does not matter if we never finish the project, it is the process that brings us the calm and a variety of sensory pleasures.

So, the best thing my daughter could have done for me was to commission the pillow she wanted for her birthday (along with staying the extra day and a half).  It soothed my mother’s soul that is still in a bit of a transition as my only child moves ever closer to graduating college and living on her own.

The pillow Pattern from Primitive Quilts and Patterns

The pillow
Pattern from: Primitive Quilts and Projects

That’s not all, as I wrote last time in A Key to Living a More Enjoyable Life, the benefits for helping those of us living with lupus and/or other autoimmune diseases can be significant.  The key is, to find something you might enjoy, if you have not already found it.

As we have seen from this post, it doesn’t matter how good you are, or if you even finish the project.  It is in the process, as long as you enjoy what you are doing.  Cooking, gardening, reading, crossword puzzles etc are also acceptable things to try.

So like I said last time. Curious minds (me and the other readers) would like to know, “what do you do to soothe your soul or what are you getting ready to try?”

Until next time….happy crafting.
Leslie Rose K
FOLLOW ME HERE ON PINTEREST
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.-William James
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4 responses to this post.

  1. So true Leslie, we in the scrapbooking world say that scrapbooking is cheaper than therapy! Getting into my crafty room and making a card or layout or altered project, etc gives me a sense of calm and relaxes me. I’m so glad that your daughter stay a little longer over winter break, I can say I know exactly how you are feeling only with me it is all boys and they really don’t want to do anything with me since we are opposite sexes. lol They are good to me, but let’s face it they don’t like cooking with me or crafting, etc…We talk and that is that. I cook and they eat. lol That’s what draws my guys home, food, but that works too. It’s hard to tell your children go. I can’t believe that my youngest is soon off to college and I can’t believe my oldest is 32. Where the years went I have no clue. But don’t worry they always come back home!!! Thanks for a very good post, I think more people need a hobby to relax them whether or not you have an autoimmune disease. And yes I think hand quilting is very relaxing. Hugs, Brenda

    Reply

    • It is so good to read your comment. I have heard some quilter’s say shopping for fabric is cheaper than therapy. Fabric is getting pretty expensive, I don’t know if that is always true now. ; ) Elizabeth doesn’t like to craft or sew with me but she does like to talk. I am thankful for that. Keep up the creating. You do wonderful work. Your blog follower’s are blessed.

      Reply

  2. Leslie, thank you and thank you for praying. I am definitely on the mend!

    And what a beautiful pillow – and you are being a loving mother who prepares her daughter for the future, and yet it is natural for us parents to be just a bit apprehensive when “that” day comes.

    Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by Wendy. Did you notice I borrowed your curious minds phrase? I mentioned where I got that from in a previous blog. Unfortunately, I still do not get much input back. I am glad you are feeling a little better. Please stop by again. I think you will be blessed by my Easter post.

      Reply

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