Friday, September 27, 2013

Yarn to the Rescue

The other day I was feeling stressed and anxious. The reason doesn’t matter, not even that it was based on a real issue. I was doing that horrible circle thinking. Round and round the same negative thoughts. Get to the end and they began again. And I felt it physically as well in the form of what I call a nervous stomach. It was like my stomach was a clenched fist.

I tried various relaxation techniques I know like counting as you breath in and then doing the same as you breath out, trying to stretch both to higher numbers. It worked - but only as long as I did the breathing. As soon as I stopped, the loop of thoughts returned and my stomach got tense.

I did all kind of self talk, trying to convince myself that feeling this way was pointless. I agreed with myself, but it didn’t make the anxiety go away. If anything, it started to get worse. I was focusing on it too, much and it was beginning to feel like a fever dream or Mickey Mouse’s dealing with the ever increasing broomsticks in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

My sense of humor was gone and I couldn’t manage a laugh for a stupid sit-com. Several cups of tea didn’t make a dent either.

Then I picked up the shawl I’m making for the next Casey book, Silence of the Lamb's Wool. It is a very simple repetitive pattern. I looked down at the wavy lines of the stitches. The yarn is thick and thin in places because it is hand spun. I took a deep breath and began to work on the next row. It didn’t help my stomach at first, but the negative thoughts began to melt away and I came up with a solution to what was causing all the anxiety in the first place. As I continued on with the rows, I could feel my stomach begin to unclench and it was like a breeze of relaxation went through my body. I even began to laugh at the silly show I had on in the background.

When I stopped knitting, the anxiety did not return. I had successfully calmed myself, all by myself. What a great feeling. Though I happened to have picked up some knitting, crochet would have worked just as well.

I think working with yarn is so much about the journey rather than the scarf or shawl you end up with. The rhythmic movements sooth your mind and spirit.


Planner said...

We are very lucky we happened upon knitting and crocheting with all their wonderful benefits. They truly are stress relievers.

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, and best of all, the only side effects are ending up with a scarf or something.

Monica Ferris said...

I agree with Betty - stress relief plus the bonus of something pretty and useful.

I sometimes turn to knitting when I'm stuck in a plot or have written myself into a corner. If I just go lie down to think about it, my brain sees me idle and starts reminding me that the floor needs mopping or the litter box needs cleaning out. But if I'm knitting, I'm "doing something" and that part of my brain remains silent and I can work my way out of the problem.

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, I find it easy to slip into a meditative mode when I'm knitting or crocheting. It's kind of like having a blank mental screen for ideas to pop up on.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's always fun that some of our favorite pastimes can help to soothe our difficult moods, Betty. Yours is knitting--and mine is communicating with my dogs!

Chrystle Fiedler said...

I'm glad that you found relief! Research shows that the repetitive motion of knitting helps us to slow down and relieve stress.

Betty Hechtman said...

Chrystle, I have a heart rate monitor I use when I go to the gym and I have actually watched my heart rate slow down when I crochet or knit.