I’ve always worked full time and always lived a very busy life running a business, home and family so never really had time for hobbies. I always been a very creative person, my kids birthday parties/dinner parties were that of legends lol, but I never really found a personal outlet until recently.
6 years ago I went to a dinner party and the host showed me a framed cross stitched she had done for her parents. It was called ‘a-z of Christmas’ – it was beautiful and that was it I was hooked and in fact it was my first ever completed cross stitch (see below). It took a year but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Now, it is such a big part of my life I actually get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t stitch – seriously! I didn’t realise how big of a community there was out there, in fact a few of our members are very keen cross stitchers and we chat regularly about our projects not lipoedema! As part qualified accountant I like order, structure, being methodical as a Leo I like to being creative and using vibrant coloursand creating humorous pieces of work so cross stitch and I are a match made in heaven.
My husband thinks it’s a complete waste of time and energy but what does he know… he stares at the water for hours waiting for a fish to take the bait only to throw it back in the water!! Now that is a waste of time and energy as least I have something to show for my efforts lol However, I appreciate not everyone likes or wants handmade gifts and or has the time or patience to take up such a hobby but there are a few benefits to cross stitching …
Dr Marlies Alvarenga, director of the Monash Clinical Psychology Centre at Monash University, says embroidery is known as logic relaxation. Forming and following patterns requires a certain logic to the practice.
"It makes beautiful sense to do this," Alvarenga says. "You could sit on the train going to work and look out the window or you could do cross-stitch, engaging the brain in being able to develop and follow patterns, so there is a logic involved. It's a self-induced state of focusing."
Alvarenga says focusing on a task for a long period of time has been shown to improve concentration levels and hand-to-eye coordination.
It also stimulates the brain's right hemisphere, which is associated with creativity.
"When people are working busy jobs that require them to have lots of responsibility and constantly be developing creative solutions, embroidery trains that creative area of the brain, as anything artistic would do," Alvarenga says.
"This also fits into the concept of mindfulness, because doing embroidery makes you very present. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, and as people achieve small successes – getting a difficult stitch right and creating something beautiful – their perceived level of confidence rises. Plus, at the end of the day, you end up with a product for your effort and your own creation."
It’s also a perfect hobby for those of us with limited mobility. I didn’t take this hobby up because of lipoedema, I took it up because my life changed. Lipoedema has slowed me down but in a way I’m glad because now I can take the time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures in life meet and converse with a whole new community and fill my home with lovely art.
So my advice to you is take the time to explore your creative side, even if it’s just an hour or so a week, the mental benefits are immeasurable.
Stay calm and keep cross stitching.
Written by Joanne Bird