The Mental Health Benefits of Cross Stitch

A heart box cross stitch
Pam Pedersen

Ask a group of cross stitchers why they cross stitch, and many people will point to the mental health benefit they get from the craft. In fact, several of the same themes will emerge, including focus, calm, community and stress reduction. Of course, this is merely anecdotal evidence and should not be substituted for actual medical advice. If you are having a difficult time, please reach out and get the help that you need. Cross stitch is one way to heal and be healthy but there are many ways to reach out. 

Calm

Calm is a word that is used over and over when people talk about the benefits of cross stitching. People explain that stitching is like meditation. The simple task of pulling the floss through the fabric, doing that same type of stitch over and over can give people a sense of well being, The repetitive motion is almost like a chant or prayer. When people begin to feel overwhelmed by life tasks, stitching allows them to sit down, breathe and regain the calm in their life. If housework seems too overwhelming adding to existing depression or anxiety, the simple task of stitching, regardless of the finished product, allows crafters to regain a sense of calm. 

Many first responders at crisis lines use stitching as a way to stay in the moment but not allow them to feed into the crisis at hand. They report that it keeps them level headed and allows them to decompress after a difficult call. 

Focus

Cross stitching and various needlework projects also allow people to stay focused. It allows their brain to concentrate at the task at hand--stitching--and not on the worry. Cross stitch allows the brain to focus and gives the body something to do, working together both mentally and psychically. 

Community

Community is something we all need and it is important to many in the cross stitch world. The internet has helped with that greatly. There are cross stitch groups everywhere--Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, to name a few. These online groups are especially important to those who are homebound due to various issues. It is an amazing feeling of oneness for someone to tell you, "Hey, I get it, I love doing that too." It makes us realize how connected we really are. 

Stress Reduction

It's a busy go go go world...family, work, (or lack of work), school, it can be overwhelming, putting ridiculous demands on our lives and well being. Cross stitch allows crafters to sit back and just breathe. You can stitch alone or with a small group and feel the stress disappear. Cross stitch is a craft where the only person you need to please is yourself, which is a great way to equate cross stitch to stress relief. Every day, the demands of life stress you out, yet taking even a few minutes to cross stitch, brings you back to a calm center. Even if you are creating something for another person, each stitch is about bringing yourself back. 

From focus to stress reduction, cross stitch helps our mental well being. It allows us to redirect energy and use that energy to create something beautiful. It allows you to connect with yourself, with your breathing, your mind, and your body, becoming whole again.

While cross stitch allows you to focus, it also is great for connecting with others. It allows you to be part of a bigger picture and know that you are not lost or alone. The bottom line, cross stitch is not only good for the mind, but it is also good for the soul.