If you’ve ever sat down to work on your embroidery you will know about the benefits the practice brings. Within minutes of working on a project your mind grows quiet and the repetitive action fulfils your body’s need to be occupied. Research conducted by University College London in 2020 confirmed that artistic activities can ‘lower inflammation and stress hormones such as cortisol’ while also helping reduce the risk of dementia. Other studies have been more specific, pointing to a direct link between textile crafts and improvements in mental well-being.
Practices such as crocheting, knitting and embroidery, have high participation rates in the UK, more so than other practices such as music or painting. Perhaps the comforting tactile nature of the materials helps contribute to the calm that can soothe us. Unlike music or painting, most textile practices rely on muscle memory and large swathes of work can be completed by the hand while the brain switches off.
Embroidery and other hand crafts are truly democratic and the kind of therapy that just about everyone can participate in.
With all this in mind, it quickly becomes clear why there has been a resurgence in the uptake of textile crafts during the ongoing pandemic. These are anxious times and we all crave a little bit of inner peace.
1. Alleviate Stress. The act of embroidery can release of neurotransmitters that promote joy and well-being, while also reducing stress hormones.
2. Reduce Anxiety. Taking time to looking at and appreciate a pleasing piece of embroidery, or any visual art, can help manage and reduce anxiety.
3. Lower blood pressure and a decrease heart rate. A study conducted by the Home Sewing Association found that people doing cross-stitch enjoyed these exact physiological changes.
4. Keep your brain healthy. Spatial and gestural practices such as embroidery are important for the development, maintenance and repair of the brain.
5. Help the brain recover from injury. Stroke victims can re-establish neural pathways and improve brain plasticity.
6. Keep your eyes sharp. Practiced in good light and for the appropriate length of time, embroidery can help maintain and strengthen eyesight.
7. Be mindful. Embroidery can help us engage in mindfulness, keeping us in the present moment, silencing the parts of the brain implicated in generating negative emotions.
8. Build confidence. Completed embroidery projects can generate feelings of accomplishment, helping build self confidence.
9. Brighten up your home. A completed embroidery project can be used to decorate the home creating a more pleasing environment.
10. Express yourself. While some people sing and others dance. Embroiderers can express themselves through embroidery
11. Art therapy. Explore yourself through the artistic practice and safely explore the emotions, memories and ideas your work provokes.
12. Save the planet and look cool. If you’re embroidering on an item of clothing, it can be a great way to extend the life of the item and give it a new lease of life.
This list is by no means exhaustive and each person will likely have their own stories to tell of how embroidery helped them both mentally and physically. At Hand & Lock we hear all the time how people have reaped the mental and physical rewards that embroidery can bring. People have embroidered themselves out of depression and they have used embroidered to rehabilitate themselves from physical injuries.
Some use embroidery to express personal and political truths, helping educate others. An hour of embroidery won’t save the world but it might help save you.
If you haven’t discovered the benefits of embroidery already, why not make 2021 the year you discover inner peace through embroidery.
Hand & Lock have a selection of embroidery kits for a variety of techniques along with an increasing number of hand YouTube tutorials to get you started.