A question was posted on Facebook about why people cross stitch and what mental health benefit it had for them. The responses that many cross stitchers gave were very thoughtful. People were willing to share their stories on how cross stitched has benefited them. Not only their physical, but also their mental well being. Several of the same themes continued to pop up: Focus, Calm, Community and Stress Reducing. This is the viewpoint of the author, the people who responded to the questions and not meant as a substitute for the benefits of a psychologist. 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 is a word that was used over and over. People explained that stitching was like meditation. The simple task of pulling the floss through the fabric, doing that same type of stitch over and over gave them a sense of well being, The repetitive motion was almost like a chant or prayer. When people began to feel overwhelmed by life tasks, stitching allowed them to sit down, breathe and regain the calm in their life. If housework was too overwhelming adding to their depression or anxiety, the simple task of stitching, regardless of the finished product, allowed them to regain their calm.
Many first responders at crisis lines used stitching as a way to stay in the moment but not allow them to feed into the crisis at hand. It kept them level headed. It also allowed them to decompress after a difficult call.
Others mentioned that they have suffered major bouts of depression and anxiety and said that cross stitching and various needlework projects help them 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 is something we all need and from what has been gathered, it is important to many of us 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.
Last is Stress Reduction. It's a busy 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 us to sit back and just breathe. We can stitch alone or with a small group and feel the stress disappear (unless you are working with metallic thread...One person mentioned that, "when I cross stitch, I don't have to please anyone but myself..." What 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 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 out mental well being. It allows us to redirect energy and use that energy to create something beautiful.. It allows us to connect with ourselves...our breathing, our mind, our bodies and become whole again. While cross stitch allows us to focus, it also allows us to connect with others. It allows us to be part of a bigger picture and know that we are not lost or alone. The bottom line, cross stitch is not only good for the mind, it is good for the soul.