Sewing Your Way To Better Mental Health


You had a very stressful day. From having the car break down on the way to work to hearing about a friend’s health concern, you don’t know if you can handle any other bad news today. As you walk into the house, you head straight to your sewing room and take out a decorative pattern. As the needle starts to move up and down, the world around you will become distant as our mind concentrates on only creating the sewing project.

Once you are done, you feel mentally better and filled with pride in creating something with your hands and creativity. It seems strange to say, but you have to admit that sewing really does help with your mood and emotions. Your son and daughter even mention how much happier they feel when working with their kids sewing machine.

Sewing May Have Positive Mental Benefits

If you have felt this same effect countless times when sewing, knitting or working with some other craft project, you are not alone. A study published in the British Journal of Occupational Health found that out of 3,500 knitters, around 81% felt happy when knitting even when suffering from depression, according to CNN.

Why is it that when we sew or knit, we feel better mentally and emotionally?

Research is still being conducted on this effect, yet neuroscientists are starting to see a pattern that crafts such as knitting, quilting and sewing are offering a range of mental benefits that are similar to meditation. When you are doing something that you enjoy, the brain is releasing dopamine, which is a natural anti-depressant. It stimulates the reward response and feel-good emotions in your brain as this happy feeling moves throughout your body.

In another conducted study of 60 people who suffered from chronic pain, they found that when the people sat down to knit, the knitters had a decrease in the amount of pain they were aware about. By working with the needles and thread, their brain became so focused on the craft project that it couldn’t focus on other things like the present pain. The brain had a harder time registering the pain signals because the people were using their creativity, mental functions, and hands as a distraction.

So when you are looking to lower your levels of anxiety, depression or stress, think about taking up needlework. Whether you are helping your child sew up their first doll craft on their kids sewing machine, or you are sitting in a quiet corner finishing up a quilt, you can lower your heart rate and feel more relaxed, which can be a benefit to your mental health. In addition, you can increase your feelings of happiness when you finish the project or receive praise when you give the craft to someone you love. Having a sense of pride in your work enables a dopamine response that can allow you to get through the stress found in your life so you can better handle life’s obstacles.

Another amazing fact about sewing and mental health is that doing craft projects can increase longevity and lead to better cognitive health. Like working on crossword puzzles, knitting, crocheting, sewing and quilting can help with neural pathway development. So as you grow older, you can enhance your memory functions when working on more difficult patterns and craft projects. Challenging yourself to complete such tasks could in fact diminish the chances of you developing certain cognitive impairments that could be debilitating.

Sew for Your Health

When you are feeling stressed with the day, remember that there are sewing projects waiting in your craft room. Seek out a quiet time when you can concentrate on the task. Fix the family dinner, have the kids stream their favorite movies, and sit down in front of your sewing machine. Not only are you making a craft that will be loved by all of your family as well as yourself, you are also helping your mental health.