3 Top Reasons We Should Make Time to Stitch

health slow living stitching Mar 01, 2024
an embroidery hoop sits on a wooden surface. There is a clock face embroidered on the cloth.

We've all heard the phrase "everyone has the same 24 hours in a day," but I think we can agree that's not necessarily true. Some folks work long hours, others have dependents to care for, and others still may be battling health issues.

With all of the important things we need to keep track of and dedicate our time to, why should we make stitching a priority? There have been many studies that have demonstrated that stitching is more than just the simple act of running thread through fabric. It has also been found that engaging in active creativity helps improve problem solving skills, and the simple act of creating has a positive effect on our health, as well as reducing stress.

1. Stitching reduces stress[1]: Working with our hands on activities like knitting and stitching is a form of active meditation - a type of meditation that gives you something you can focus on, but that has a repetitiveness to it and creates a relaxation response. This has been shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and we could all use a little less stress in our daily lives.

2. Engaging in creative activity helps improve problem-solving skills[2]Creativity is like a muscle, in that the more that we work it out, the stronger it gets. When we practice using our creativity in artistic situations like stitching, it helps sharpen our creative thinking skills for when we approach problems in our day-to-day life.

3. Creative people live longer[3]Studies have actually linked creativity with a longer life! One possible reason for this is that the neural networks in creative brains tend to maintain their integrity, even into old age.

Based on the statistics for my website and social media, I know that many of you are women. And the truth is, as women, we tend to put other people first! This can translate to neglecting our creative pursuits in favour of supporting our families and honouring our 'to-do-lists.' And while this is very noble, we do occasionally need to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others.

This is something we know, as evidenced by terms like self-care and mental wellness becoming more popular. Often, we think about acts of self-care as luxurious bubble baths, a mani-pedi, or if we're lucky, a day at the spa. But the reality is that taking care of ourselves runs a lot deeper than the glamorous suggestions found in magazines - it's also about the mundane things we do to help us be our best selves every day, like nourishing ourselves with nutritious food, spending a few minutes in the fresh air, giving ourselves enough time for rest - and yes, even expressing ourselves through creative activities like stitching. 

We don't always have an hour or two that we can set aside to pamper ourselves, but almost all of us can find 15 minutes in the morning or evening that we can build a stitching routine into. I think you'll find yourself feeling more at peace and that you'll crave your stitching time each day, and you'll have more energy to give to your loved ones. After all, creating is an act of self-care, and we can care for others better when we are properly cared for ourselves! 

So now that we know why creativity matters, how can we make stitching, and art in general, a priority when there are so many other important things to look after?

1. Start small. A "regular creative practice" may bring to mind visions of being hunched over a desk for hours at a time, but it really doesn't have to be so daunting! Even 15 minutes of stitching each day can help you de-stress, and over time, you'll create something beautiful.

2. Plan it in. It might seem silly at first to block out time in your day for stitching, but habits take time! If you aren't used to taking time for yourself each day, you may find that you simply run out of minutes before you get a chance to sit and stitch. Instead, prepare ahead of time - perhaps you can go to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight and have an extra 15 minutes of stitching time tomorrow morning! Or have a kit (needle, thread, scissors, etc all the things you need to get stitching in a pouch) so you can pick it up and take it with you if you know you have to wait somewhere (ie, doctors office, on public transport) 

3. Make it fun. You want your stitching time to be something that you look forward to, not a chore. Consider tying in other things you love to make a ritual of the process - perhaps preparing your favourite drink and snack, opening your curtains to stitch in the sun, or tuning into your favourite podcast. Continuing to learn new techniques can help keep things challenging and fun, too!

Sashiko Stitch Club is one way we make stitching even more fun - both by learning a new stitch every month, and by gathering as a group online to stitch and chat.

If you're just starting out with creative pursuits, remember that creativity ebbs and flows. There may be days that you feel you don't have a single stitch in you, and days that you are overflowing with inspiration. The aim is not to force yourself to slog through a project when you don't have the energy, but to establish a practice that helps you bring yourself into focus more often and recognise that even on the bad days, a little bit is more than none.

If you'd like to learn Sashiko to help you unwind but don't know where to start, my Sashiko Essentials: From First Stitch to Mastery guide will walk you through the first steps. You can get it here! And if you're already a stitcher, let me know in the comments how you make time for stitching!

[1] https://www.seamwork.com/articles/breathing-easy 
[2] https://www.pilgrimsoul.com/home/creativity-in-problem-solving-innovation
[3] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/open-mind-longer-life/ 

Hi, I'm Kate!

I am a strong believer in starting where you are and using what you have, wherever and whatever that may be.

Everyone should get to experience the joy of connecting to others through learning, experimenting, and creating.

Creativity doesn’t have to be expensive or wasteful. Whether we’re using natural materials, reusing materials, or shopping our own stashes first, creating mindfully goes beyond being present in the moment - it extends to being mindful of our environment and the other communities around us, too.