When I was little I was obsessed with magazines. I’d spend ages browsing the magazine aisle in Asda and WH Smith. Each one was a gateway to a potential hobby or education. This was long before the internet made discovering new things as easy as just a few clicks. Those prehistoric times when we had to learn things from print, TV or *shudder* other actual humans!
I had stacks of magazines. So many that I dread to think how much money was spent on them in my teens and childhood. As a life-long data junkie I wanted them all. All of the knowledge!
Skip ahead 26 years to me standing in my kitchen putting my shopping away, when I spot a little leaflet attached to a tub of Belgian hot chocolate. “Read thousands of magazines a month for £7.99” it read, and went on to offer a 2 months free trial. So, with all the zeal of my 7 year old, magazine-mad self, I popped in the code online, downloaded the Readly app, and spent the entire evening reading. By nighttime I was pooped. I’d learned about upcoming space missions, how to sew my own wardrobe, and so many Meghan Markle beauty and fashion tips.
But most importantly, I’d discovered hundreds of cross stitch magazines. Why was this important? Well, it turns out that of all the activities and methods I’ve explored in an attempt to calm my anxiety ridden mind, cross stitch is one of the most effective. Not only that, but once you’re done stitching, you’re left with a piece of art.
The obsession had begun. This wasn’t my first attempt at stitching. Back in 2012 I blogged my first cross stitching attempt here, but honestly, I’d found it time consuming and boring. Given my new found craving for thread I decided to give it another shot and picked up a little kit from hobby craft.
From the first stitch my mind became a calm zone, and the anxious self chatter that usually occupies the space straight up disappeared. Regular readers will know that my anxiety good much worse last year, so after months of dreading being alone with my mind, I’d found something that worked, and it wasn’t in pill form and didn’t involve focusing on my breath (not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but I’d done so much of it and was ready for something new).
Cross stitch offers an added deterrent for anxious folks too. I’ve found that when my mind strays off too far down a path of dread and worry, I’ll end up stabbing my finger and it brings me right back to the task at hand; the repetitive but relaxing creation of those tiny x’s. It’s kinda like those negative reinforcement experiments they did with rats, but less terrifying 😨.
“Have I stumbled on a secret here? I have to tell anxious folks everywhere!” I thought to myself. But nope, it seems people have been crafting as a form of therapy for thousands of years. Everyone’s doing it!
In the last few decades, cross stitch has grown from the quaint village scenes that your Nan might stitch back in the day, to modern city skyline illustrations, inspiring quote porn, and even actual porn. There’s something for everyone.
It sounds too simple to be true, but if you’re suffering with your mental health, seriously, craft can really be crazy good for your mind. Readly, Pinterest and Deviant Art are gold mines for free cross stitch patterns, so starting off is easy. In the meantime check out these little projects I’ve finished in the past few months.
Have you ever tried crafting as a form of therapy?
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