Sewing to Relax

Written by Eléonore
December 21 2020 | Tips and Techniques

For many of us, sewing is a form of self care, and this year it seems more important than ever to take care of our mental health and well-being. Hobbies like sewing can ground us in our day, provide a break from the pressure of everyday responsibilities, and help cultivate mindful habits. If you want to understand why sewing is so relaxing and cultivate more mindfulness in your projects — here are some tips to make the most of your sewing this season.

One of the main mental benefits of sewing (or any other hobby) is that it is an intentional part of the day spent doing something purely for the joy of it. While small children have pockets of unstructured play time throughout the day, as adults we don’t get it unless we make the time for it. Between work, parenting, chores, and the many other responsibilities that fill up the day, it can be easy to neglect time spent just for ourselves. 

More than just being dedicated time for play, sewing also provides a break and much needed pause from emails, notifications, and the endless scrolling that may be enjoyable but not very restorative. Scientists are increasingly studying a phenomenon known as digital sensory overload, whereby our brains become overwhelmed with the amount of information we ask them to process each day. They have found that it is in “offline” moments where memories are formed and stored, creative connections are made, and we can truly rest from the day. Sewing gives us this pause, allowing us to create something physical with our hands and take a break from constant multi-tasking.

Mindfulness and Sewing

Taking time to focus on just one thing at a time (in this case sewing) is a practice known as mindfulness, and its positive health benefits are enormous. Just 15 minutes a day of mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, curb ruminating thoughts, improve attention and memory, and promote self-regulation. It can also lower the heart rate and blood pressure, and over time makes us better at staying present and living in the moment — which in turn can boost happiness. 

To make the most of sewing’s meditative qualities, try spending active time focusing on the act of sewing with all five of your senses. How does the fabric feel in your hands? What does it sound like running through the machine? Pay attention to your thoughts and practice positive self-talk where possible. This works best without the TV on in the background (which can make it harder to notice your thoughts), but if Netflix in the background brings you the most joy then by all means don’t let us stop you. Just note that mindfulness is something that takes practice, and even if you try this for 10 minutes at a time to start, it will become easier over time. 

Set the Mood

Another way to create a more relaxing experience when you sew is to take time to consider your environment. While aromatherapy is commonly associated with essential oils, it is really just the practice of using scents to affect your mood. The olfactory system in the brain involves both the amygdala (emotions) and the hippocampus (learning), which means that scents are deeply tied to emotional memories. This is why certain odors can instantly remind you of a childhood holiday or the memory of a loved one. If there is a certain scent or candle that you already know brings you joy, don’t be afraid to take advantage of it in the sewing room to create an uplifting ambience. 

Music has a similar effect on our mood, and is a common aid to stress-relieving activities. Studies have shown that the right music can help relax tense muscles, lower blood pressure, and slow heart rates. Like scent, music and the emotional significance attached to it can vary from person to person, so these effects are highly dependent on the type of music listened to. Try taking the time to create your own playlist with music you know makes you feel happy, relaxed, and will contribute positively to your time sewing.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that not every day is going to be a good day, both in life and in sewing. It is okay to get frustrated, to take short or long breaks from sewing, and to switch projects when sewing is causing you stress rather than relieving it. Don’t be afraid to set your own pace (despite what you may see on social media), and work on tasks that are as easy or as challenging as you can manage in any given moment. Ultimately, you are the best arbiter of what feels good, and the beauty of sewing is that you can always adjust and make it work for you.

While this year has been tough for many of us, we hope that you are still taking time for yourself and finding pockets of joy and play where you can. Do you have any other ideas for cultivating relaxation in sewing that we missed? How else are you taking care of yourself this season?

5 commentaires

Abby, December 22 2020

In the midst of chaos, my sewing machine, pattern/ideas, & fabric have provided a sense of order and competence. At the end of a tilt-a-whirl day, work on a sewing project has comforted & grounded me. Worries are put to the side, and a sense of satisfaction grows out of completing a project, even if it’s just mending or hemming a dress for a friend.

Marla, December 23 2020

During this year I have had periods of distancing myself from sewing because I have felt overwhelmed with all that has been going on. But I have managed to get back, take several online courses, connect with fellow sewists and improve my skills and find joy once again in my sewing practice. Sewing has definitely been a supporting and nurturing practice that’s helped me navigate this difficult year. And for that, I am so grateful

JenL, December 23 2020

Since I am not going out, I do not focus so much on making things I “need.” Instead, I work on what I feel like doing at the moment. Also, it is not important to be “doing” every moment. Sometimes just sitting and listening is ideal.

Dawn Hazel, December 31 2020

School days included sewing or home economics as it was called those days. Sewing as a career choice was for generally for factory low paid work and women acquired the skills to usually make the home more comfortable. Oh how times have changed for the better! Sewing is a much more recognised skill nowadays, where we can be creative and unique. With the many beautiful fabrics on offer all over the world we can be whoever we want to be, cultivating and able to express our individual personalities. I have seen for many years and my little indie sewing company has many vintage reproduction styles through all of the decades which would be lovely if you and your readers would care to see. They are truly inspiration and we are trying our hardest to suit our customers needs by making them available by regrading (resizing) them into multiple sizes. It hasn’t been an easy task I must say! Please feel free to support us and check us out
I loved your blog and I am so grateful to readers expressing how sewing has helped them during these difficult times.

Dawn Hazel, December 31 2020

Thank you for this read

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