Quilting is therapy! Quilter's have always known this...whether its therapy for a broken heart, a sour mood, recovery from illness, grief or tragedy, or just a respite from the stresses of life, quilter’s have a knack for healing their lives through the creative outlet known as quilting.
Finding one’s creativity, that limitless space of possibilities that we had as children, requires breaking free of the many structures society has placed upon us. Imagination is the space where matter meets spirit, its where creation happens. Finding this space within oneself is where healing begins and new life emerges. Quilters have intuitively known this all along. What is it that moves through us and helps us heal as we cut and sew those fabrics? Why is it that creating a new quilt through a time of grief gives us renewed strength? Let's explore exactly how quilting is therapy...
Endorphins – Nature’s Magic Healers
The answer is endorphins…nature’s magic healers. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are produced naturally and released by the brain to alleviate pain and promote pleasure. Emotionally, they are mood elevators, stress and anxiety reducers and self-esteem boosters. Physically, they help reduce inflammation in the body, reduce pain and discomfort and enhance our immune systems. Overall, the more endorphins we can coax our bodies to generate, the better our overall health and well-being will be.
The great news is that endorphins are created through pleasure. If we do what we love to do, we will naturally feel better and our health will improve. This should be a no-brainer for us! This is definitely easier said than done in today’s stress-filled and busy world! However, choosing to do what gives us pleasure (and making time to do it) is part of taking responsibility for one’s own health and well-being. It’s part of “righting our ship”, bringing all the parts of ourselves into alignment and creating an environment where those magical endorphins can do their job.
How Does Quilting Boost Endorphin Levels?
As with any activity that gives you pleasure, quilting can and does boost our endorphin levels, thus bringing healing and increased well-being to all areas of our lives. Below are a few of the ways this occurs:
Taking time for oneself – You can’t pour from an empty cup. We have nothing to give others if we ourselves are running on empty. We simply must take time for ourselves if we are to be of any use to those around us. Quilting provides a focus for our “self-care”, a tangible way to set aside time for what we enjoy doing. We must make time for ourselves a priority so the body will have the opportunity it needs to heal and stay balanced.
Quilting boosts our confidence and self-esteem – Each time we succeed at a new challenge, master a new technique or complete a project, we are filled with a sense of accomplishment. We receive this “payback” for our efforts, which in turn, boosts those endorphins.
Creating Art – When we create with fabric, we are making art! This is why they call quilting Fiber Arts. What quilter hasn’t cringed when someone refers to our quilts as “blankets”? Quilters know so much more goes into each quilt, much more than can be measured in fabric, thread or time. Our quilts are works of art, regardless of size or difficulty level. They are works of art because we created them. It’s the synergy between our imagination, our vision and our hands as they work to produce what we have envisioned. This process of “creating art” boosts our endorphin levels naturally as we allow the fun of creating to emerge through us. In my blog post What is Creativity? I delve deeper into the process of creativity and how it emerges through us.
Relaxation – Forgetting about our daily problems and stresses and becoming immersed in a hobby that brings pleasure, promotes relaxation. For those who find quilting (and all that goes with it) a fun and pleasurable thing to do, relaxation naturally follows. As we allow the outside world to fall away and become immersed in our creative process, those wonderful endorphins are increased and released into our bodies.
While we have been dreaming of the next quilt we will make, shopping for fabric, cutting and sewing, basting and quilting, something miraculous was happening in our bodies. We have been healing. We have been creating and receiving self-therapy through our love of quilting! I call that miraculous indeed! Who knew? Quilting is therapy!