Can Mental Health Issues Be Improved By Cross Stitch?

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Why Mental Health Problems Are a Growing Concern For All Society

Okay, so besides the normal day to day hustle and immense stress of daily living in this modern digital age, we now have a pandemic to contend with. And the uncertainty surrounding us just makes it so much harder to deal with. So it’s little wonder that so many people have mental health issues; although often unaware of this.

Unfortunately, dealing with these mental health concerns has become somewhat of a normal part of life for too many individuals. Although this problem is not necessarily a new phenomenon, it is a growing one. It’s also clear there are certain aspects of modern living that have served to exacerbate the issue.

Due to our digitally-dominated world being so connected through the internet, social- , and other forms of -media, people today are not only exposed to the mental health issues in their immediate environment…

mental health issues
With all these symptoms, is it any wonder I’m NOT a happy bunny?

But, in addition, from our home we are shown all of the bad things taking place across the entire planet: wars, famine, pandemics, and so on.

Furthermore, we are expected to juggle so many more responsibilities at any one time, all while continuing to be as productive as possible. In a nutshell, it largely boils down to we’re suffering from too much noise, bedlam and chaos.

So, is it any wonder that people everywhere are feeling the mental strain; it’s simply too much!

Are We All Doomed?

No! It’s not as bad as that. Although mental health issues do vary in intensity and frequency from person to person, there are several ways to deal with the problem that are beneficial for anyone experiencing similar concerns.

… doesn’t tackle the underlying problems but does let you concentrate on something different.

Since our website is a cross stitch blog, this article will discuss the mental health benefits of cross stitch. This, in order to alleviate some of your issues and the confusion associated with such health problems, and thereby hopefully improving your overall quality of life.

Live In The Moment

Although it may seem obvious when stated, the only point in time in which you will EVER exist is right now. Ironically, most of us dedicate the bulk of our mental energy into the past or future. Mental health issues are great at causing us to replay past mistakes in our head and constantly worry about things that have yet to occur.

A big part of dealing with anxiety is to live in the moment. This means focusing all of your physical and mental energy on what is going on right now. Not only does this simplify life, it also allows you to get the most out of your limited time.

Trying to deal with your entire past and future on a constant basis makes it virtually impossible to appreciate what is right in front of you.

Here is a short (7 mins) video where Claire tells us how she uses crafting to blow away those blues when she’s feeling mentally worn out:

Control What You Can Control

Trying to deal with your entire past and future on a constant basis makes it virtually impossible to appreciate what is right in front of you.

The truth is, many of the issues causing anxiety in your life are beyond your control. This includes global and community issues as well as problems in your personal life.

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What you need to realize is that the weight of the world is NOT on your shoulders, even though it can certainly seem like it at times. Anxiety tells you that you should be worried about solving problems that are way out of your hands.

In reality, focusing on the issues that you actually have the ability to resolve is a much healthier response to a problem-filled world.

Mental Health Issues, what’s the answer?

Earlier we identified a major cause of mental health issues are noise, bedlam and chaos; both internally and all around us as well. Since so much of that appears beyond our control, what can we do about such problems?

Well, if we know what causes these problems, perhaps we should seek a form of counter balance. Spend some time doing the opposite of that which is hurting us. Introduce more contrasts, such as: peace, calm and order to bring some harmony back into our lives.

Strange as it may seem at first, there is strong and growing evidence that various forms of crafting provide relaxation and other benefits to the stressed out brain.

Consider this, a CNN article titled This Is Your Brain on Crafting reported, that among other specialists, the beliefs of Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi by quoting, “When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more than during the rest of life … You know that what you need to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”

It seems that one of the keys to happiness is by actively doing a popular craft (this includes Cross Stitch). There’s interesting evidence that Cross Stitching really is beneficial for your mental well-being.

Cross Stitch Brings on Relaxation

When you concentrate on stitching, your current project cannot fail to captivate you. This has been likened to a form of meditation and will bring on feelings of relaxation, while also encouraging positive thoughts.

mental health concerns
This cute little guy seems to be totally relaxed.

The practice will also reduce your anxiety and stress as you unwind and become further immersed in your stitching project.

Depression Can Be Lifted by Cross Stitching

It’s perfectly normal for well-balanced people to “worry” since it shows we care deeply about something or someone. Problem is, for too many people these worries can start to take over your life.

And before you know it these mental health issues can begin to drag you down. What you need is a technique to help you relax and think in a more positive, clear and calm way. In other words you need some sort of distraction.

Science continues to provide compelling evidence that a creative craft, such as cross stitch, focuses your mind to concentrate on what your hands are doing. Thus, cross stitch is an ideal distraction, which is yet another reason to continue cross stitching as it helps with mental health issues.

Symptoms of Major Health Issues

Here is a list of the major symptoms that suggest a person is in, or about to emotionally slip into, a major depression (the person):

  • can be restless or irritable.
  • either have a low appetite causing weight loss, or their overeating causes weight gain.
  • energy has decreased.
  • has constant feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness.
  • have a hard time remembering, concentrating, or making decisions.
  • have insomnia or they’re oversleeping.
  • have thoughts of death or suicide.
  • loses interest in once pleasurable activities like hobbies or sex.
  • may have pessimistic or hopeless feelings.
  • mood is persistently sad and anxious.
  • persistently suffer from digestive disorders, headaches, and pain with no other cause diagnosed.

Treatment, including both psychological counseling and medication helps most people suffering from depression.

However, other treatments can also help people going through mood disorders. Experts are continuing to study the health benefits of doing crafts such as Cross Stitch, with encouraging results.

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Cross Stitching Helps to Prevent Dementia

If you’re an older person, you will be happy to know that stitching can help stave off dementia (one of the nastiest mental health issues). Even if you’re not in your senior years yet, cross stitching can train your mind to be active.

If your brain is exercising now, it will be stronger in your later years. Doing crafts such as cross stitch can reduce your risk of getting dementia.

Researchers at The Mayo Clinic conducted a study of people over the age of 85, and reported the following in an article: “Painting, drawing, and sculpting in old age may protect against dementia.”

They also found that people “who had taken part in arts were 73 percent less likely to have suffered memory or thinking problems.

Crafters were 45 percent less likely to have mild cognitive impairment (trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life), while socializing lowered the risk by 55 percent.

Regular Internet or computer users reduced their risk of memory problems by 53 percent.

Cross Stitching Chases those Blues Away

Stitching increases the amount of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is one of the feel-good chemicals, that plays a vital role in how happy we feel.

When you’re actively focused on your stitching project you kind of go into a self-induced form of meditation with your brain concentrating solely on the task you’re working on.

mental health therapy
By concentrating on her stitching, her worries simply fade away.

Research has shown that meditation increases dopamine, thereby raising your level of concentration and making you feel happier. Thus alleviating mental health issues.

Cross Stitching Exercises Your Brain

Your brain needs to exercise regularly to stay sharp. Stitching helps to keep our minds in good condition by keeping it active.

At one time, doctors believed that a person’s brain stopped developing past the age of 20. However, researchers now think that doing crafts such as cross stitch a person’s brain function can improve as they age.

Cross Stitching Builds Self-Confidence

If you want to be successful in life, you must have positive thoughts about yourself. In other words, you must have self-confidence. Cross Stitch may seem a simple, straight-forward activity but it can help you build that.

When you’ve finished stitching a favorite piece after working on it for a long time, don’t you feel great? Sure you do. Using a pattern and working through a project gives a person the most satisfying feeling of ‘achievement‘.

This accomplishment feeling will undoubtedly improve both your confidence and self-esteem. Having faith in yourself can make other difficult hurdles in your life easier to overcome.

Researchers in the United Kingdom found that you can benefit from stitching in many ways. For instance, people who stitched had a stronger cognitive sense than those who didn’t. Their social and emotional well-being were also found to be better.

Cross Stitching Makes You Think Creatively

When working on a Cross Stitching project, you’re obliged to apply creative thinking. One example of which is, when stitching with a particular color and moving to a different part of your project, do you tie-off and start afresh on the new section, or is it close enough for you to jump across to the new section before continuing stitching? Just one of the many little problems you must solve.

Solving small problems like this leads you to try new things. A great benefit of solving problems with creative thinking, is you invariably begin to think creatively in other areas of life.

Cross Stitching Skills Improve Your Hand-Eye Coordination

Since stitching requires you to work with a needle and thread for lengthy periods, often hours at a time, it naturally develops your motor skills.

By doing this, you will improve your hand-eye coordination. With better hand-eye coordination, lots of life’s tasks will automatically become easier to perform.

Cross Stitching Lowers Your Heart Rate and Reduces Your Blood Pressure

The Home Cross Stitching Association conducted a study of how Cross Stitching affects blood pressure and pulse.

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The study’s findings were that Cross Stitching not only lowered a person’s blood pressure because of their relaxed, calm state, but it also decreased the average number of heartbeats by 11; this of course will vary from person to person.

Cross stitch can create a Sense of Belonging

For many, a ‘sense of belonging’ is important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions.

Being alone for any length of time leads to loneliness and at such times it becomes beneficial to have contact with like-minded people. ‘Belonging’ is something we all need and for those of us in the cross stitch world is just as important.

mental health symptoms
A sense of belonging is a human NEED!

In this digital age, the internet has helped with that enormously. There are cross stitch groups everywhere, especially on the leading social media platforms, such as: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to name just a few.

These online groups can be particularly important to those who are home bound for various reasons. 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.

Often known as “stitch and bitch” groups, they give members the opportunity to swap gossip and patterns while developing a new skill and connecting emotionally at the same time. A great way to minimize the effects of mental health issues

You can go to any of these social media websites and type in ‘Cross Stitch Groups’ or ‘Cross Stitch Community’ and they’ll list all of their registered cross stitch groups for you. Have a browse around and simply ask to join any that appeal to you.

Don’t Be Shy, Get Help If You Need It

Finally, if mental health issues are something you are having trouble dealing with on your own, then don’t! There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help. Ironically, our society welcomes getting help for even minor physical ailments but acts as if doing the same for a serious mental issue is taboo.

Consider this, if you had the flu, you would most certainly seek the appropriate doctor to take care of it. Why would you not seek a doctor that is medically trained in alleviating mental health issues if you are dealing with anxiety? There is help out there, get it if you need it!

Final thoughts…

What’s the key to total happiness? Does anyone know? Is there even such an emotional state? Who knows?

However, there is compelling evidence that by doing creative activities such as Cross Stitching, you may be on your way to understanding the secret to complete satisfaction and contentment.

At the very least, you can reduce the effects of anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, loss of control, and dementia as you build self-confidence and creativity by Cross Stitching.

Cross stitch allows anyone who participates to sit back, regroup and just breathe. You can stitch alone or with a small group and feel the stress ebb away. Cross stitch is a solo craft where the only person you need to please is yourself, which is a great way to equate cross stitch to relaxation.

Cross Stitch is a great way to address mental health issues and get balance back in your life. Staying mentally healthy enables us to stay attentive, efficiently manage our relationships, and deal with challenges and stress.

It also helps you connect with who you are as a person and allow you to take pride in yourself and your abilities.

If anything resonates with you in this article, please tell us about it, we’d love to hear from you as to the experiences you’ve had, including any problems you’d like to share and how you overcame them.

I answer all emails received, so if you’ve any stories, comments or questions – please feel free to send them this way.

’til next time – believe in yourself.

John

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