Art Therapy?

So while I've not been feeling 100% I've been filling time by doing some hand stitching. I posted photos as I worked on my Instagram feed (hope you follow along!). And on some of the posts people commented how therapeutic it is to do the stitching. That set me thinking, because I actually feel quite the opposite and don't find it therapeutic at all! Why?

I think the general preconception is that the repetitive task of hand stitching is calming and meditative. I don't know if it's because I've done so much hand stitch in my life, but for me it's much more mechanical than that. My brain isn't engaged in the doing of it and that leaves my mind to wander. Having time to think (and therefore worry) when it's an anxious time isn't conducive to relaxation. Well not for me anyway!

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy doing the stitching, but it's not the distraction that it needs to be at the moment. I have been thinking that if I want to take my mind off things, what I really ought to do is paint. It was just an instinct thing, but I read this week that there's an interesting scientific reason why this actually works. When painting, you engage the frontal cortex of your brain. It's a bit of the brain that doesn't multi-task, it focusses on one thing at a time only.

Every brush mark is a decision, something that I need to concentrate on, consider carefully. I'm completely engaged in the painting process, rather than the simple 'doing' of stitch. I suspect it's also a speed thing. Stitching is slow. The decision is made on how and what to sew, then it's a case of just getting on with it. Whereas with painting things are happening fast, changes are taking place affecting other things, there's much more immediate consequence, more drama, more risk, more brain required.

Science says that when you paint, or do anything that requires this concentration, that because that bit of brain is working hard, other bits of the brain rest. When you stop the activity, those bits of brain kick back in but having been rested, you have a feeling of being refreshed and revitalised. Sounds good.

So my little stitched textile is done and I've glued it to a wooden panel ready to paint. It's sitting patiently on my easel while I decide exactly what I'm going to do with it next.

Thanks for visiting today.
Back soon,


  1. I so agree with what you said. I have tried to escape with stitch or simple knitting/crochet and I found my mind wandering to what I was trying to forget for a moment. If I do something I am unsure of or is new to me, I am able to escape because my mind is occupied. I had a similar experience with meditation. If I did traditional meditation where you focus on your breath, my mind would go to the list of chores, or problems needing solving. However, if I did a guided meditation or meditation that is music oriented, I would fall asleep. LOL! I guess I quieted my mind a little too much. Wishing you healthier days and winter sunshine.

    1. I love mindless kantha type stitching, but it's true your mind then wanders to everything and anything, the same with sock knitting. My go to is machine quilting, because I have to concentrate. It never fails and I certainly have enough projects to sew!

  2. Dear Laura, I wish you from my heart that you are completely well again. Take every day as he comes and stay positive xxx

  3. A thoughtful insight into how our brains help and hinder us. I've accidentally noticed similar experiences as you and others above but now I know why and what will help me when! My sincerest wishes for your comfort, energy and peace of mind, Laura. You and Linda have changed my creative life in ways you'll never know!

    1. Thank you so much for leaving such a kind comment!


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