Needlework Helps Emotional and Mental Health

Steady Hands. Settled Minds.

No matter the technique (plastic canvas, crochet, embroidery, knitting, cross stitch, etc), needlework promotes emotional and mental health for all ages.

Emotions In Play

1- Nostalgia: Even if you've never stitched before, you're probably already thinking about grandma! My initial gut reaction sends me to my gran's living room. Granny square afghan (in all the colors) draped across the back of her countrified-toile velveteen sofa (in tans and rusts). 

But after that memory, I think of sitting with her learning how to sew and stitch.  I remember her bringing out old quilts from her closet that she and my great-grandmother worked on together.
And I think how I want to create memories like that for my family.
2- Control: The world is crazy. Covid, politics, crazy drivers, family, you name it. I can't control it all and that drives me a little more crazy. But. I know that every afternoon when my son gets home, he will proceed to rant for about half an hour. I can control how I react and know to 
/a) use the bathroom before he gets home-lol
/b) have my drink ready
/c) let him rant
/d) appreciate the fact that my son acknowledges me ;)

In needlework I can choose what style or size of project I want to do.  If I want to change up the stitches, I can.  I can choose whatever colors I want to use.  It may not seem like a big deal, but taking these small actions help counteract life's sometime overwhelming lack of control.
3- Hope:  Before the actual stitching, there's the planning. With planning comes potential.  And, man, the possibilities?!  Say I need ONE thing from the craft store.  Next thing I know, three hours have passed because I was distracted by all the colors or yarn and pretty fabrics.  But by the time I'm ready to stitch, my creative juices are flowing and I can't wait to see how my project turns out!
4- Calm:  So you asked "What would Gran Do?" and let your imagination soar.  You chose the colors. And now you make a stitch.  And another. Rinse. Repeat. Soon, you're lost in the zone doing your thing.  Serenity is now.  And after realizing that your son has been asking "when's dinner?" for the past hour, you begrudgingly return to the real world.
5- Confident:  I am all about the small wins!  Who else is with me?!  I complete a row, judge it, fix any mistakes, judge it again...and then mentally pat myself on the back.  Rinse. Repeat.  And each of these wins builds up until, voila, your project is complete!  Then you get to use / display your project or give as a gift. And brag- go ahead :)
6- Sense of Community:  Introverts and extroverts welcome!  All ages, background.  Most likely, there are meetups back up and running somewhere near you.  And you can definitely find groups online.  


Talk Science To Me

7- Improves Dexterity and Hand-Eye Coordination:  From young to old, needlework exercises our motor skills. 

8- Promotes Cognitive Vitality:  Forgetfulness and lack of focus affects many (anxiety, depression, dementia, etc).  In every form of needlework, we keep track of stitch types, maybe stitch counts, and build upon these small and repetitive steps.  These digestible steps strengthen our mental and muscle memories keeping the mind clear, focused, and active. 

9+- Reduces Stress:  Needlework is a form of logic relaxation.  Forming and following require a certain logic to execute.  Two threads over.  One thread up.  Needle comes up.  Needle goes down. Rinse. Repeat. With me so far? 

When you're focused on a task like needlepoint for a length of time, it transforms into a self-induced state of focusing.  Or rather, you're in the zone.  Or in science speak, flow.  But that makes me think of something else, so we're going to stick with zoneIt's that sense of losing yourself, losing all awareness.  You're so in the moment and fully present that you forget all sense of time and space. 

When you hit that zone, it's like hitting a mental jackpot.  It triggers all sorts of good responses in your brain.  Like?!

Cortisol levels drop- that's a hormone that helps your body respond to stress.

Increased blood flow into the medial prefrontal cortex (read: brain's reward center).  Which presents a feeling of achievement. Think dopamine. 

Also known as (in science speak) relaxed, reflective state: focused attention to task and sense of pleasure.

And somewhere in research land, needlework is shown to lower blood pressure.


Bottom Line

It doesn't matter what kind of needlework.

It doesn't matter what it looks like, or if it's any good.

It's simply the act of doing it.

It's simply the act of doing it.

One Stitch.  One Project.  

Rinse.  Repeat.