For years my family has harassed me for disappearing to my sewing room for hours at a time. I’ve been known to lap quilt during sporting events which always raises an eyebrow. Some call me a nitwit but I will not be dissuaded! It’s good for my mental health!
Lately I’ve been on a Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens kick. As I read through the pages women are thoughtfully engaged in problem-solving as they stitch patiently. I can do that. My grandmother taught me to knit, crochet and needlepoint as a child and I have since enjoyed the sense of accomplishment as well as the therapeutic value of my labors. I feel better as I stitch and I’m not alone. Today, health professionals back me up.
Keep Calm and Sew On
Pain specialist Monica Baird says that knitting is only one form of handwork that actually changes our brain chemistry. Stress hormones, known to be destructive throughout the body, decrease as serotonin and dopamine are released to do their magic.
My Soul is Fed with Needle and Thread
Some studies have shown that needlework activates the same area of the brain as yoga or meditation.
Dr. Herbert Bendon – director of the Institute for mind, body and medicine at Massachusetts General and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School asserts-
“Rhythmic repetitive needlework helps to prevent the disruptive influences of stress, chronic pain and depression”. (PRLog.org)
Oh, by the way, the computerized monogramming machine I bought actually stressed me out. Sewing the old-fashioned way seems to be the ticket. Maybe it’s just me.
Quilting…It IS Cheaper than Therapy
Honestly, before I knew that I needed therapy, I perceived that needle work soothed me. In the swirl of raising five children, driving endless carpool miles and attending ballet and sporting events, needlepoint, cross-stitch or quilting accompanied me at no charge. And yes, therapy can be quite expensive ranging from $50-$300 an hour.
Creative Mess is Better than Tidy Idleness
“Needlework forms the tiny balancing point between being able to cope and not being able to cope. “Shared one chronically depressed woman after engaging in sewing therapy. (Bura.brunel.ac.ak)I have personally witnessed this. This example stands out.
A dear friend fought and slowly lost her battle with bone cancer. The paralyzing pain was tempered as we by took a quilting class together. Once we got over the awkwardness of accommodating for wheelchair, fatigue, etc. our imagination took wings and we pieced a quilt for her young son. We found joy in the shared endeavor.
Being creative is not a hobby, it is a way of life
As women age we experience increased discomfort that can lead to inactivity. . Occupational therapist Theresa Leto from the Findley University UK suggests an athletic approach to needlework.
1.Begin by warming up the hands and stretching.
2.Invest in quality equipment (clip on magnifier, special lighting, needle threaders etc.)
3.consider each needlework session to be a sprint and not a marathon.
4.Don’t get discouraged.
When life throws you scraps, make a quilt
OK, you may not even know what a fat quarter of fabric is. Your hands may never have threaded a needle. You made disdain Victorian embroidery but none are exempt from life’s disturbances and assaults. Creativity is the answer! Use your hands to make something useful. Take the time to make something beautiful. At the very least, make something and share it!
Grow an herb garden
Take a needlepoint class
Join a sewing guild
Cultivate flowerbeds for inner-city schools
Crochet throws for cancer victims
A stitch in time can become sublime! Give it a try.