Updated: Jul 26, 2022
Guest post by Mary Broddle
What if doing another activity could actually help you get through your to do list sooner? Sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it! But the neuroscience reasoning is sound I can vouch for it from personal experience.
Even after the pandemic made us all slow down and take stock, many of us are back rushing around, cramming in as much as possible: work, family commitments, social engagements, etc. Our minds left buzzing to such an extent that we find it hard to relax at the end of the day.
I used to see success as being busy to the point of hectic. Back to back meetings, rushing to get the kids, doing the weekly shop from an app whilst eating my lunch. In fact multi-tasking has been shown to contribute to chronic stress. So not something to rely on day in day out. Add in a chronic illness, it’s no wonder I burnt out countless times.
I know that most of my friends reach for a glass of wine/beer/G&T/etc. to help unwind in the evening and we all know that daily alcohol intake isn’t recommended.
Embroidery as an alternative
Embroidery is a great alternative. And better for body and soul. The mindful action of pulling thread through fabric helps calm the thoughts and lets you relax. The bonus being you have created something beautiful. You don’t need a dedicated craft space, a seat on the sofa with good lighting is all that is necessary.
Embroidery. What do you think of when you hear that word? Tapestries of kittens? Tray cloths with crinoline ladies sewn on them? If so then you may have missed that needlecraft is en vogue and it was before embroidery had an appearance in Bridgerton.
Doing embroidery is a restful activity. You focus sufficiently to calm your thoughts. Pick up your stitching, put on the telly or a podcast and it gives your brain space to contemplate without overwhelm. You aren’t bombarding your brain they way you do when you scroll the news or social media on your phone. I often find that by stepping away from the to do list to sew for a while, I can be more productive when I return to it.
Studies have shown that partaking in crafts aids wellbeing; from reducing cortisol levels in the blood, to engaging the reward centre in the brain which calms the fight or flight response we get stuck in when we have chronic stress.
Learning a new skill
Learning new skills boosts self esteem and creates new neural pathways, thus helping brain health. With embroidery there is always more to learn, so participants can start on a continual journey.
I’ve come across a lot of people who are nervous to try embroidery, worried that they won’t be able to do it well enough. That doesn’t matter! We don’t have to be perfect in all our endeavours. Just try and learn as you go. That’s what I did and am still doing.
Inspired by traditional Japanese and Indian techniques, my Mindful Stitching concept is about the process of hand embroidery rather than an overall design. Letting your needle and thread move through the fabric without overthinking its path. There is no set design to get right, you just doodle with thread. You can even do it in-front of the telly in the evening. The calming effect this has is a form of mindfulness, aiding relaxation and reducing stress. Evidence shows that even the brief periods of time spent on a creative pastime has a positive impact on our wellbeing and emotions.
Embroidery can help one feel productive during down time too. I know this because that is my lived experience! Embroidery has helped me cope with chronic illness and increasing disability, being housebound and changing circumstances beyond my control. That is why I am passionate about share that skill and its benefits with as many people as possible.
If you are curious about how to start your embroidery journey, visit my website and drop me a line.