Earlier this month, the Craft Yarn Council began their Stitch Away Stress campaign, which this year focuses on self-care and how we use yarn crafts to improve our lives.
Some of my readers may recall that I’ve talked a bit about self-care and specifically anxiety in the past. I’ve been living with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) for much of my life, though I’ve only recently been formally diagnosed (fear of doctors, delayed diagnosis–you get the gist). Personally, I find that working with yarn can be incredibly helpful in managing my anxiety, particularly when I can feel an attack brewing.
And I’m not alone. According to the CYC’s recent survey, 41.9% of those surveyed said that they often feel stressed or overwhelmed, and 19% of all survey participants said that overthinking (GAD, anyone?) causes them the most amount of stress.
Stay with me here, because I’m a big data nerd.
50.6% of participants said they feel stressed or overwhelmed before starting self-care activities (such as crocheting, knitting, exercise, reading, etc.), and 69.8% indicated that they feel relaxed after finishing those self-care activities.
And here’s the biggie: 95.3% of all who were surveyed said that they think self-care is important.
So, what are some of your favorite ways (besides crocheting and knitting, of course) to practice self-care? Here’s a few of mine:
Take a Shower
For so many people living with anxiety and depression, simple acts of taking care of yourself can be a real struggle. Things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, or even just brushing your teeth can be really, really hard. If you’re struggling with these things, I feel you.
If possible, I try to hop into a nice hot shower whenever I feel an anxiety attack coming on. There’s just something about the hot water that I find extremely soothing. I stay in there for as long as I need–usually about as long as the hot water holds out, which is a pretty long time at our house.
I usually find that once I step out of the shower, I feel more relaxed. Other basic care tasks also seem a bit easier to handle, too, like moisturizing or trimming my finger nails.
Aromatherapy can help, too. I recently switched to a lavender-scented body wash, and the scent is so relaxing! Lavender might not help everyone, so it’s important to remember that if lavender isn’t right for you, there are lots of other scented lotions, oils and soaps that you might find relaxing or invigorating.
Light a Candle
Again, lavender is my go-to scent. I love candles, but lavender is the only scented candle I keep in stock. All of my other candles are unscented (usually strong scents give me a headache), but I always have lavender on hand, just in case.
Whenever I have an exceptionally long or stressful day, I light my lavender candle and curl up somewhere comfy and quiet. Sometimes it’s not quite as effective as a long hot shower, but between the scent and the ambiance, it often does wonders to soothe my anxious self.
Of course, this really only helps if you have a dog (or other loving pet), or if someone you know will let you snuggle their dog.
My husband and I recently adopted our adorable pupper Bosco, and I’m amazed by how intuitive he is about my emotional state. This dog is usually a crazy ball of energy, but whenever I’m having a rough day he snuggles up to me on the couch and doesn’t move from my side until he’s sure I’m feeling better. He is the snuggliest dog I’ve ever met. In fact, his favorite things are going for walks, chasing the laser pointer, and snuggling with his closest human.
(Side note: he looks concerned in pretty much every photo I take of him, but he’s the happiest pup I know!)
Science has shown that having a pet helps cultivate emotional well-being. You can read more about that here, but any pet owner would agree that having a little fur-ball running around gives you something else to focus on, bringing your attention away from any negative or anxious thoughts.
I can 100% attest to this. My husband is an agricultural technician, which means he spends a lot of hours driving around the inland northwest in all sorts of weather conditions to meet his clients. I worry about him a lot when he’s gone (especially when it gets late or the weather has been particularly bad). Having Bosco around to snuggle and play with helps me spend more time focusing on good things, distracting me from all of the worst-case scenarios that pop into my head.
Start Something New
Whether it’s a new book, a new crochet project, or a new tv show, getting a fresh start on something feels so invigorating. New projects/books/hobbies bring plenty of exciting energy into our lives, and sometimes you just need to stop what you were working on before and just start fresh.
I find that this particularly applies to my crochet work. At the moment, I’m working on two major projects. They’re both going well, and I like switching between them, but I feel like they’ve lost their spark.
Some call this losing your “crojo”, I call it a product of my anxiety and depression. Starting with a blank slate, doing something new and exciting, can actually be incredibly soothing.
After some reflection these last few days, I’ve realized that I have a bunch of minor hobbies that I usually return to every time I feel like I need to change it up. These include trying new recipes, jumping into fully invested research of random topics like ancient Egyptian mythology, and learning new languages (I’m learning French, Norwegian, and Klingon on the side these days).
I’ve found that returning to these interests of mine don’t lessen my love of crochet–in fact, they often help me refresh my mind and look at my projects in new ways. Taking a break from my regular hobbies and activities actually rejuvenates my love for them.
To that end, I’ve decided to take a fresh start with my Instagram feed. I’ve been unhappy with my approach to it for a long time now–it was messy, unorganized, and only fueled my anxiety further.
If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, please do! You can find me at @twoheartscrochet. There isn’t exactly much there at the moment, but I promise there will be soon.
I’m looking forward to this fresh start and I hope this post inspires you to take a time out for yourself and practice some self-care! I’ll be working to #stitchawaystress by starting a new crochet project later today. Photos will be posted to Instagram soon!
In the meantime, comment below and tell me how you practice self-care!