A Creative Boost To Your Mental Health
New Year is a great time to take stock of our emotional well being. To me, creativity has always been a tonic at times of stress or anxiety. The peaceful, tactile act of sewing focusses and soothes my mind as I become absorbed by the task at hand.
Working creatively with our hands provides therapeutic relief from an increasingly busy and tech-based world! So here are a few ideas to calm your mind by reducing stress through making. Of course I love to sew but if it's not for you there are plenty of other crafts to discover!
Making in the Community
Community groups are a great way to get making and meet new people, alleviating loneliness and social isolation. I run a community knitting group in Plymouth. Started 11 years ago, we have now doubled in size! We meet every Friday and the group has a regular attendance of 40 women, of all ages. We knit for charity and for specific exhibitions (if you visit Smeaton's Tower, you'll find it full of our knitted bits - lighthouse keepers socks, blankets, wooly hats and jumpers!). It's such a wonderful group to work with; new friendships have been made and there's an emphasis on skill sharing.
There's an incredible feeling of support and kindness amongst the women, with all the knitted pieces they make being donated to charities both local, national and international. We make hats for the Searfarer's Mission, clothing for children at Trevi House, blankets for Mount Gould dementia unit, jumpers for a Romanian charity, baby clothes for Derriford Hospital and, when I recently visited India, I went with an extra suitcase full of knitted scarves, hats and jumpers for an orphange in Delhi (pics below)!
Knitting has brought women from all walks of life together. As a group, they give their time and creative energy to help others. For some, they are older and live alone; the group is a lifeline, a day in their week when they are amongst friends, for others who are new to the city, it has been a lovely way to meet new people and become involved in community. For me, over the eleven years, it has become part of my family - my children have grown up with this group, visiting on their school holidays and now when they come home to visit. Craft and creativity are such an important part of life and bring so much joy as this group truly shows. To find groups in your area visit Craft Club.
Creativity at home
The best thing about making is that you can do it anywhere and at anytime, giving a creative boost to your mental health whenever you need it. A creative project will help you to relax, the repetitive, rhythmic nature of sewing in particular is very calming. You will also be using your free time productively. I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I see a project through from start to finish. There is enormous pleasure to be taken from immersing yourself in a personal project, offering an often much needed form of self expression.
If you need some inspiration we have some lovely materials online to get you started, take a look here . And click here to download a simple pattern.
Even if you're making at home you don't need to feel isolated. There are brilliant blogs to follow such as: https://thesewcialists.com/about/
Their goal is to build community and make everyone feel welcome. The blog was created for visitors to share their sewing stories and to celebrate unique identities and experiences.
And I loved this article by Clare Hunter, author of Threads of Life: a History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle. Clare gives a fascinating insight into the history of sewing as therapy and the science behind its calming effects.
I'd love to see you at one of my workshops so do get in touch for further information. They are a great way to learn a new skill, get together with friends and family or meet new people. I host them at my studio in Mount Edgcumbe and get great pleasure from spending a morning with other crafty types! We have a Silver Workshop and Lampshade work shop coming up in March, both can be booked online here.