The feel good benefits
When I teach classes or meet people at craft fairs, the thing I hear time and time again from both newbie crafters and avid addicts alike is this:
"Cross stitch is so therapeutic."
Now I do not have a PhD in anything and I have not conducted any quantitive research of my own into this subject. Plenty have and it makes for fascinating reading. For an overview of the mental benefits of yarn crafts generally take a look at The Yarnfulness Project (as funded by The University of Oxford no less) who are actively collating and reviewing academic studies done in this area as well as carrying out fresh research or Stitchlinks for lots of good examples of studies and evidence.When I teach classes, you can see people relax, focus and seriously enjoy learning this simple craft. So I guess the question is why does it feel so good? My instinct leads me down few roads.
It’s a way to switch off in a time when we are constantly on.
Cross stitch cannot be done when you’re ‘plugged in’ to the ever-on electronics in our lives. The smart phone goes away for a little while and you bring your brain back into the here and now.
You are creating.
We don’t get to make things with our hands very much any more. Creating something that has longevity feels good.
It’s simple and repetitive.
It’s easy to learn and not so tricky that it absorbs all your brain space. You can listen to music or watch your favourite tv show at the same time and experience some real ‘me time’.
Cross stitch belongs within the ‘yarn craft’ group of hobbies which involves using natural yarns and fabrics, that are soft to the touch and reassuring.
Learning something new gives us a sense of achievement and connection.
Having a crafting skill means that you’re part of a ‘gang’, a community of people that enjoy the same hobby. That can be inspiring and affirming.
So, in short, if you are feeling stressed then it doesn't hurt to give it a whirl. If you know someone with a lot of stress in their life, why not suggest cross stitch. While it may not take the source of the stress away, it certainly provides a route to a healthy coping strategy, a little comfort and some gorgeous peace.