Sewing and quilting are popular hobbies for people of all ages. As well as being fun, these crafts can have important other benefits. They can help with mental health, physical health, socializing and more.
In this blog post we will discuss why sewing is good for your physical and mental health. We will also explore some interesting scientific research done on the topic recently and discuss the relevance of sewing to chronic conditions such as dementia and depression.
Physical health benefits
The physical benefits of sewing and quilting are plentiful:
1. Lowers heart rate and blood pressure
Studies have shown that needlecrafts can lower heart rate and blood pressure. This is due to the calming effect that these hobbies have on the body and how they can counteract the stress response.
This is great news for the many people that suffer from these common conditions. It also means that sewing and quilting might be an effective form of therapy.
2. Reduces risk of dementia and loss of brain function
A recent study looked at various hobbies and whether they helped reduce the risk of dementia and preserve brain function. It found people with crafting hobbies such as sewing and quilting, were 45% less likely to suffer from mild cognitive impairment.
It’s thought that physical and mental stimulation of the brain through hobbies may increase growth factors that help brain cells function better and prevent them from dying.
3. It improves hand eye coordination
This is important for a variety of reasons, including preventing falls.
Research has shown that as we age, our ability to perform ordinary manual tasks declines. The decline in hand-eye coordination can result in an annoying increase in ‘clumsiness’.
This is something that few of us think about, until we have a problem. Taking steps that can help prevent health problems like this is always preferable to treatment, especially if the activity is enjoyable, such as sewing.
4. Increased activity and flexibility
Sewing and quilting requires movement that your body needs to stay healthy. Although many people use this hobby to relax, it involves a surprising amount of movement, especially when compared to sitting and watching the TV.
We’re not suggesting that you’re going to be doing an Olympic workout, but the activities of laying out fabric, cutting and working your sewing machine can all be beneficial.
The skills needed for sewing all help to stretch the muscles of the hands, arms and shoulders in a natural way. This can help retain flexibility and suppleness.
Mental health benefits
1. Sense of accomplishment
It should not be underestimated how good it feels to finish a project. The feeling of accomplishment that is brought on by completing something has been shown to help people with depression.
There is a real sense of pride when showing your finished quilt project to others. It doesn’t matter whether you share it with others at a quilting group or online via Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.
People who sew are generally nice people!
One of the best things about sewing is the people you meet. You’ll find yourself interacting with people from all walks of life and backgrounds, which can result in a lot of new friends. Joining a quilting group can be a great way to meet like-minded people and have your work critiqued.
Sewing for charity is a wonderful way to use our creative skills and give a sense of purpose. Charities in the UK that work with stitchers include:
Project Linus – accept patchwork quilts for sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers
Making for Charity – accept bags for use by cancer charities and hospices
4. Stress relief
Whether we acknowledge it or not, many of us are under excessive stress. Having a hobby like sewing can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. Many people find that when they are working on a project, it forces them to focus on one thing, which disengages the brain from stressful thoughts and feelings.
There has been a lot in the news lately about ‘mindfulness’ and its amazing benefits. This is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. Although many people use meditation, you can still get many of the benefits of mindfulness by focussing on an absorbing hobby such as sewing or quilting.
If you’re looking for a new hobby that is enjoyable, therapeutic and can help reduce stress – then sewing or quilting might be perfect.
If you’re an existing quilter, don’t feel guilty about the amount of time you’re spending on your hobby – it’s helping your wellbeing!
Sewing and quilting not only make us feel better about ourselves but also improve our mental health in many ways. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your worries and need some time away from it all, try getting creative with stitching!