Sewing is good for your mental health – yes, really!
We already know that sewing makes you happy, so it will come as no surprise to everyone who loves sewing, that yes, it’s official! Sewing is, together with other Art & Craft activities, good for your mental wellbeing.
According to a recent study by the Crafts Council,
‘participating in sewing as a leisure activity contributed to psychological wellbeing through increasing pride and enjoyment, self-awareness, and 'flow'’
Well, the lovely, loyal customers of My Fabric Place could have told them that, but it’s good to know that the benefits of sewing are recognised in a world where stress, anxiety and depression affect so many of us.
Becoming involved in a sewing project gives so much pleasure right from the very start.
Effort and reward
From total beginners through to those at the top of the tree, sewing projects can offer a level of challenge that is just right for everyone. It’s good to work on a project that requires effort, and the hard work very quickly brings rewards that encourage increasingly ambitious goals.
The rewards of sewing just keep on giving. Firstly, the excitement of planning a project and selecting the right fabric and notions, the growing anticipation as the project nears completion gives encouragement and motivation, next is the wonderful realisation of having been able to create something quite unique, and the satisfaction of achievement, raising self-esteem and feelings of pride. Finally, the created artefact, whether it be a single curtain across a caravan door or a gorgeous bespoke wedding gown, will be a constant reminder of personal success.
Soothe away worries
Anyone who has ever lain awake at night with the worries of the day crowding around the bed will understand how much better it is to be able to focus the mind on planning a project. Much more effective than counting sheep, the planning process induces calm and helps overcome anxiety.
According to an All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry, Creative Health, ‘arts-based approaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long-term conditions and experience a better quality of life’.
The Creative Health report points out that all Arts-based activities help people to cope with stress, anxiety and depression throughout their lives. We all know that sewing is one of the best crafts for encouraging creativity. Unlike drawing, painting or creative writing, you don’t start with a blank canvas or an empty page. Browsing through the shelves of My Fabric Place, either through the website or, when the doors are open, by visiting the shop, you will be inspired by the fabulous patterns, textures, colours and variety of the wealth of fabrics on offer. Your starting point may be a wonderful fabric, a paper pattern or an image seen on Pinterest – whatever your inspiration, you can get started very quickly.
Joy and well-being
The process of sewing can be soothing and absorbing and can actually promote well-being.
The Craft Council report states that the creative process will ‘ help to improve mood and lower stress – the effort, multi-sensory engagement, repetitive actions and anticipation of satisfaction involved in making something are related to release of neurotransmitters that promote joy and well-being, while also reducing stress hormones.’
Sewing and Autism
According to Simon Baron-Cohen, the psychologist greatly respected for his research and understanding of Asperger Syndrome (AS), that part of the brain generally associated with AS’ is predominantly hardwired for understanding and building systems.’.
Following instructions, repeating processes and the logical methods of some sewing projects can have a calming effect upon people who have Autistic traits who may be particularly adept at following instructions and doing tasks in a systematic way. For the rest of us as well, these processes can be so absorbing that anxiety and worry can be all but forgotten as we focus on the creative task.
Sewing with the children
Throughout the difficulties of the Covid 19 pandemic, children and parents have found themselves locked down at home, needing to home-school as well as keeping occupied and entertained all day long. Despite the obvious pleasures involved, many parents, politicians and health experts have expressed concern over the mental well-being of both parents and children.
A London-based project ‘Creative Families’, working with vulnerable parents and children found that all of the family experienced better mental health and well-being after taking part together in Art & Craft activities. As well as reducing anxiety and depression in the parents, the project ‘encouraged the emotional, social and cognitive development of children’.
In our next blog we at My Fabric Place will suggest ideas for sewing with your children, so if you have photos of your own sewing projects that you would like to share with us, do please share!
(Please note that, if you include images of children, we will need written consent in order to include them in our blog).
BaronCohen, S. (2003) The Essential Difference (London:Penguin)
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing July 2017 The Short Report
Written by our very own fabricologist - Berta!