Sew Your Blues Away! – How Sewing Fights Depression

sewing fights depression

[Update 2020: In this time of great global turmoil, job losses, and isolation due to the new social distancing norms brought on by the virus, depression is more a threat than ever before.  We wanted to republish this extremely popular article we wrote a couple of years ago about how sewing fights depression.  Please share it with your friends, especially the older people in your life, who are likely to be more isolated than ever.]

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 350 million people worldwide who suffer from depression.  It is also found out that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to men. The thing is –anyone can get depression and that includes you and me.

Sew Your Blues Away

Courtesy http://www.healthline.com/

Indeed, people around the globe can get depressed regardless of their socioeconomic standing or age. This is not exactly a very encouraging piece of news but it is also a fact that we can combat depression and one of the ways in doing so is to take up a craft like sewing.  You can literally Sew Your Blues Away!

Many studies indicate that sewing is good for both our mental and physical wellbeing.  Just to reiterate, aside from the obvious benefits of sewing like having an up-to-date and well-fitting wardrobe or getting rid of missing buttons, it is also good for your health!

sewing fights depression

When we focus all our physical and mental facilities on a sewing project, we stop worrying about our everyday problems like paying utilities, issues at the office or family conflicts. And although these problems do not necessarily go away, we do not let them bring us down and we allow ourselves time to rebuild.  And in the end, we have a new dress in the closet too;)

Crafts like sewing allow us to relax from the pressures of daily life. Simply speaking, it makes us feel good. It is also a very useful craft to pass on to our kids. Nowadays, there are so many low-quality clothes available in the stores. And most young people just buy them and wear them a few times then forget about them. The day may even come when “disposable” clothes will come in fashion. Think of the strain that will give our environment.  You can be sure that if people learn to sew their own clothes, they also look at clothes in a completely different way. They will start to notice the work that goes into it and the quality of the fabric, notions, and style that comes with the dress.

Sewing Helps the Brain

Studies show that sewing helps develop a hand to eye coordination that is good for the brain. It also keeps ours fingers agile and nimble. In addition, it is always good for our self-esteem when we mend our daughter’s clothes and watch her wear it again and again. If you have never done this, try it, it sure feels great and that is good for the heart too.

sewing fights depressionIn short, mentally engaging movement helps to break the cycle of negative thoughts, as well as allowing the brain to recover and improve by generating newer, healthier brain cells.  Specialists state that an engaging hobby is often more effective than just taking an antidepressant, which typically targets only one neurotransmitter.  While sewing not only heals, it also improves the brain's resistance to future bouts of depression by reminding our brains that we have an impact on the world around us.  Neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, author of Lifting Depression supports this conclusion when he said: “Hands-on work satisfies our primal craving to create solid objects and it could also be an antidote to our cultural malaise(unhappiness).”

Sewing is fulfilling because we can see the end result. It could be the curtain that is now hanging in your window or the dress that your daughter will be wearing on her graduation day. It is also great for your social life.  If you enroll in a sewing course, you will meet new friends.

And with sewing becoming popular again, you can also join any of the hundreds or thousands of sewing circles on the internet. In some places, you can find sewing circles meeting regularly to collectively do a project, host a get-together or simply compare notes.

Here at So Sew Easy, we have a large and active online chat group and sewing circle with some 30,200 members.  I'd like to think that this helps all our members with a healthy sense of community.  I know it certainly helps me.  If you'd like to join, just pop over and see us:

So Sew Easy Facebook Chat

So if you feel like the strains of everyday life is getting to you, just take out your sewing machine and fabric and start to sew your blues away!

If you need someplace to start, here's a handy list of easy sewing projects for beginners.

easy sewing projects

Easy Sewing Project HERE

Do you agree that sewing helps the brain and fights depression?  I'm certainly convinced.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

If you know someone who could benefit from sewing their blues away, don't forget to share this article with them.  Perhaps they'll too get started on this wonderful pastime we all love so much and be all the better for it.

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Marilyn Boros
Marilyn Boros

Hello: I needed this writing today. While I try to keep busy on the 4th of July, since I am alone, I could barely make it off the sofa yesterday. I wish I had found this article yesterday. It would have helped me so much. I am 67. I am a health care worker and have not yet recovered from the MDD that hit me last October when Covid spread through out our facility. I went on leave and am back now very part time. I have had pancreatic and breast cancers. I went through a marriage with a spouse who told me “I don’t love you like another man would, I hope you will be happy,” on my wedding night. I am exhausted from these and other things of life. But, before I go to work this morning, I am going to sew. Thank you for the inspiration. I really needed it.

Asmaa
Asmaa

I am not an expert with sewing, but I find my self picking it up every time I am in deep depression, like deep deep depression where you don’t want to do anything and end your life.. its the only thing that calms my mind, even tho I am an artist, drawing won’t make me feel as peaceful as sewing makes me.

Julianne
Julianne

Great article Mayra! I have been sewing since I was 10—-now I am 70. I sew most days. I still do sewing for others just to get some pocket change. It pleases me when I can solve a problem for someone. After working as a nurse for 20 years I returned to school and became an occupational therapist. Using your hands to create “something” is the best therapy. It benefits not only those with mental illness, but those suffering with physical illness or injury. The object you create is outside of you, but still a part of you. You can see it and analyze it. You can give it to someone and accept the praise for a job well done. Changing careers at the age of 40 was the best thing I did for myself. It helped me understand my drive to create and pass that gift to others. Thank you for all you do to promote sewing.

Liz W.
Liz W.

I was going to say,” you have no idea…” but stopped because you do.

Sue Deffler
Sue Deffler

I am 70 years old with 32 years of living and sewing with Multiple Sclerosis. Been on antidepressant and and antianxiety medications most of this time. Sewing has always been my go to for creativity and making and selling to a small shop where I live in Sun City West. I have no doubt it helps with the depression.

Shawn Tater
Shawn Tater

Amen. I sewed from the time I was 11 years old. Then life threw some major curves. And when I thought it was ironing itself out I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then out of no where a friend I had lost touch with contacted me. Checking on how I was doing etc. She asked if I was sewing. When I told her no- (sewing machine disappeared during a divorce) she was shocked. The next day she knocked on the door and gifted me a sewing machine and two large bags of fabric. I was pretty sick but I gathered the strength to start sewing again. Took a few months to get my confidence back. (It had been 7 year since I sewed anything.) But I’m happy to say I’ve been back in full swing for a while now. Absolute best gift I ever received.
I’m good now. Two years cancer free. And in my happy place at the sewing machine -daily.
Thank you for being one of the bright spots during the worlds crisis.

DIANNE LANGER
DIANNE LANGER

Many Blessings to you,this couldn’t come at a better time and you will be greatly blessed!!!! I loved the mask instructions to and it came when we all needed it.
Please keep up the great work. I can’t thank you enough. The world needs you!
God Bless
Diane

Nora
Nora

Sounds exciting!

James Withey
James Withey

Hi Mayra, I love this article. I wonder if you would be interested in submitting something similar for a new book I am editing about mental health and how activities and hobbies can help depression? Do get in touch if this sounds of interest and I can tell you more. (this isn’t a scam!)

Travis Lameiyan
Travis Lameiyan
Reply to  James Withey

hello James. get me on iwriter.james2017@gmal.com

Travis Lameiyan
Travis Lameiyan
Reply to  James Withey

i believe we share the same interest. i think we can grow together. am also doing a research on the same topic. i find it interesting

Wendy
Wendy

I have a traumatic brain injury I fell in February 2018 and a side effect from that is major depression. I love to quilt but I have lost my sewjo and am unable to get motivated. I look at my fabric and read a little about different new patterns and dream up quilt top ideas and write them down but I have not had the desire to sew or piece or quilt for over a year now

Moira Bennett
Moira Bennett

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and ended up leaving my full time job. It was very difficult for a while to come to terms with having a mental illness. I felt very lost. I took up sewing and joined a patchwork beginners class. I loved it. I joined sit and sew at a local shop to sew and socialize once a week about three years ago and still go. I used to get all these ideas for dolls and had made a couple before I was diagnosed. I have just decided to learn more about doll making and I registered a business name a few years ago and believe one day I will sell my dolls. I came off my medication one year ago exactly and have been keeping well so whether sewing has helped my brain I am not sure but it certainly gives me something creative to do and gives me purpose and so much enjoyment. I have also taught my daughter 24 to sew and she adjusts clothes which is how I started out.

Jilly Anderson
Jilly Anderson
Reply to  Moira Bennett

I totally agree. Had a breakdown after being bullied at work. Have been sewing for 10 years again and this definitely helped me recover, overcome my anxiety and depression. Have since retired and sew most days.

SANDRA CUNNINGHAM
SANDRA CUNNINGHAM

Do you agree that sewing helps the brain and fights depression? Yes, it absolutely can. I also have depression. Over the years I felt fulfilled when I could make gifts for friends and family as well as doing my own projects. I put a LOT of time, money and care into them.
Several years ago after having done a large project for a daughter in the Navy and frequently overseas she told me to stop making her handmade things. I was stunned! I had no idea she didn’t appreciate the things (which I spent special care in making perfectly as I am an advanced sewist).
I stopped sewing completely for several years, depressed and wondering how many folks had not really appreciated my handmade gifts. I don’t know what got me out of my doldrums to start again, but I now try to Know My Audience. If I don’t get a thank you then I have to assume it wasn’t that person.
My feeling now is that if I do a project for someone who isn’t a fan they can just toss it in the trash, but I hope they NEVER tell me. I can only hope that most of them are “something lovely that can be used, loved and cherished.”

Patty
Patty
Reply to  Mayra Cecilia

Sandra and Mayra, I completely agree with you on this subject. I sewed for many years before my daughters were born and later as they grew. I did stop sewing for awhile after they graduated from high school but couldn’t stay away long. It’s very therapeutic for me to create whether it’s sewing, crafting, or whatever. I take medication for my depression currently but it’s so much better when I’m crafting. I’ve currently taken over two and a half rooms of my house for my “crafting” and one room is sewing! It’s also developed into a part-time business for me as I now do 10 crafts shows a year in my local area. It wonderful to see the people that appreciate my efforts purchase something that makes them happy!

I also know that not everyone appreciates your time and effort but believe me Mayra is correct that there are millions of people who do. My daughters got to a stage where they didn’t but as they’ve grown into adults (39 yrs & 35 yrs) they now craft as much as I do and both are also sewing. As the saying goes, what goes around come around. I’m so glad that sewing and crafting are coming back, maybe the next generation will be better for having learned these hobbies.

Grandma G.
Grandma G.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago. Praise God, I’m one of the lucky ones who is reasonably well managed with medication. I still have an occasional bad day – although nothing like I used to before being diagnosed. Not every sufferer can say this. My own daughter is bi-polar and her life is tough. But with good treatment and regular counseling she keeps on going, My heart is always with her. So to other sufferers – know that there IS help out there, don’t give up, just keep trying to find the right therapy or therapies. May God comfort and help you all.

Having said this, when I retired two years ago, my best friend “dragged” me into our church’s quilting group. I’ve always loved to sew but never quilted…within two weeks of joining the group I was in love with quilting. The process clears my mind and allows me to use my creativity. It gives me a sense of peace when my world becomes unsettled. We give away most of our quilts and this
provides the satisfaction of producing something lovely that can be used, loved and cherished. I KNOW that quilting helps me through the difficult times – it’s truly great therapy!