The mental health benefits of sewing

#1: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment.

Whilst sewing, you have to concentrate so much that you can become fully engrossed and absorbed in the activity and you can forget about any worries that you may have. Even if this is only temporary, it can have huge therapeutic effects. Sewing can therefore be considered to be a mindful activity. Sewing is also a really sensory experience – feeling the fabric and threads, hearing the sewing machine, looking at the stitches and seams which all add to the mindful effect.

Mindfulness can have numerous benefits, everything from decreased stress and sadness to increased levels of focus and happiness

#2: Improved self esteem

Whether it’s learning to thread your sewing machine by yourself, completing your first sewing project, making your first wearable garment, learning to sew with a new fabric or making your first gift for someone – all of these achievements, (no matter how big or small), can give you a real sense of accomplishment and therefore make you feel good about yourself.

I have lost count of the number of people on my sewing workshops that come to the end of a class and say “I can’t believe I just made that!” or “I never thought I’d be able to make something like that” or “that actually looks quite good!” Creating things yourself really does make you feel good and with that comes increased confidence in your own abilities, increased self worth and self esteem.

#3: Socialisation

Sewing in itself can be a fairly solitary hobby and loneliness is a big problem right now. Sewing is brilliant as it can be done easily at home independently. However, by combining sewing with socialisation or connecting with others, you can further experience the mental health benefits of sewing. Being able to meet other like minded people in real life and share your interests can make you feel really good. When I’ve been on sewing meet ups I have grown in confidence – chatting to people I’ve never met before, but it’s so much easier when you have something in common! You could literally talk for hours!

I am a massive advocate of bringing people together and learning alongside each other in groups, hence why I decided to start running sewing classes. I love seeing people inspire each other, compare their makes and stories and take comfort when other people make mistakes too (including me!). Also not forgetting that all important cup of tea together can have so many positive mental health benefits.

If you either can’t or don’t fancy meeting up in real life then how about joining an online sewing community? Whether it’s a Facebook group or commenting on people’s social media posts or blogs- connecting with people who share the same interest no longer has to be just face to face. The sewing community is generally a very welcoming, friendly and supportive place.

#4: Relaxation

We’re not talking about relaxing you so much to the point that you fall asleep (that wouldn’t be safe in control of a sewing machine!) but sewing can make you feel relaxed. The repetitive nature of sewing and other crafts like knitting have been associated with meditative practices and therefore having a relaxing effect.

I can definitely associate with this – sometimes when I’m feeling stressed, uptight or anxious, I retreat to my sewing machine and instantly feel a state of calm and relaxation. Some of you may find this hard to believe if you have ever sewn a piece on upside down, back to front, made a hole in fabric, got the machine jammed etc etc but I didn’t say it would be relaxing all of the time!!

#5: Happiness

Sewing and other crafts can cause dopamine to be released in the brain. Your body makes dopamine and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘feel good neurotransmitter’ and ‘a natural anti-depressant’. Dopamine affects many parts of our behaviours and physical functions including our mood. It can make us feel happy, lighten our mood and be more motivated and enthusiastic for things. If you combine this dopamine effect with the feel good factor when you have made something and the associated self esteem boost, this can then further increase happiness levels.

Ever heard people say “sewing is my therapy”? Well now you know why! I’ve also had one customer say “I think your workshops should be prescribed on the NHS”. A very powerful thought indeed.


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