How Crafting Helped My Anxiety post by The Cozy Tree

How Crafting Helped My Anxiety

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I’ve always been a relatively anxious person. But when I was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder as a young adult, I started to realize how much crafting helped with my anxiety.

When I began working through my struggles with a Christian therapist, I learned that I had already implemented some coping mechanisms that were scientifically backed. I had also started reading up on child psychology to help me understand my kids better, and it made me realize many of the things we observe about children are still relevant into adulthood.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, and Mom Brain is a real thing so my memory is not great haha. But I’ll try to explain what I remembered from this exploration.

How our brains work when stress takes over

When a child is dysregulated, his brain shifts to emotions-only and has no room for logical thinking. This can be caused by a single trigger (something scared him, he’s hungry, etc.) or a series of events building up (sensory overload, exhaustion, feeling unheard by parents, etc.). It can feel almost impossible to de-escalate a child when he has reached this point.

If you want to learn more about child brain development, this book is amazing and highly recommended among many of my friends!

The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel

The same works for adults, although our brains have likely matured enough to have practiced coping mechanisms, even if we don’t realize it (and even if we aren’t great at it). When anxiety hits, I get so stuck in a spiral of thoughts that I get more and more scared and irrational and emotional, and logic goes out the window. Same works for people who struggle with anger, they can get so angry they become violent or lash out and it’s almost impossible to reason with them.

The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel audiobook on phone image
Side note: Audiobooks are amazing when you have little ones and can’t always stop to read!

What can we do to fix it?

One coping mechanism my therapist recalled teaching many of her clients was counting by twos. An adult most likely knows how to count by twos easily and doesn’t need to think much about it. But they still need to think enough to make sure they haven’t lost track or missed a number. By doing this logical (but low effort) activity, it can slowly bring the “emotion” side of the scale back down to a more reasonable level to allow the “logic” side to take part again.

Creating is an amazing way to utilize this method. When you create something, you have to use your brain and logic to make it work, but you can still let your emotions run relatively freely.

Types of creating that helped me

I found that with knitting and crocheting, there was order and logic to it by using specific stitches and patterns, but still creating something new. It wasn’t all that mysterious and unknown. There was a method to it, but I still had the joy and satisfaction of making something new, fun, and useful.

During my time seeing a therapist, we also observed that I struggled with patterns of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), trichotillomania (hair pulling), and dermatillomania (skin picking). This especially flared up when my anxiety was high. Turns out, crafting was a great way to combat this as well!

When I kept my hands and mind busy focusing on a new project, I didn’t have the compulsion to mess with my skin or hair. Since knitting and crocheting in particular require the use of both hands, I didn’t have a chance to subconsciously do those tics.

Tap any of the images above to learn more about them!

How I’m doing now

After my second child was born, I had pretty bad postpartum hair loss. I also had post-Covid hair loss. These two things mixed with my compulsion to pull my hair meant bad news for my scalp haha. Thankfully, constantly caring for a newborn left me no time to give into those compulsions, both consciously or subconsciously. But when my daughter got older and didn’t need to be held all the time, I found myself needing to do something with my hands.

Crocheting a blanket by The Cozy Tree

That’s why I jumped back into crocheting! It gave me something to do, and now I have some cute kids to make hats, sweaters, mittens, and toys for. Now my hair has grown back much healthier and I can actually leave it alone.

When I get overwhelmed with the kids, I’ve found that knitting or crocheting helps calm me down again. If I can manage to do a little bit of a project during their naps, I feel like I can handle the day better.

Does crafting remove anxiety entirely?

It’s no secret that anxiety can be all-consuming at times. I’m aware of the stereotype that Christians think you can just “pray the anxiety away”, and although I do believe in the power of prayer and trusting in Jesus, I also believe God gave us incredibly smart doctors and scientists to help the sick and struggling. Medication and therapy are often necessary to combatting mental illness. I am one of those people who needs both!

Crafting will never permanently cure anxiety. And in some instances, it may create even more! But for the most part, crafting in any form should be a relaxing hobby you do because you enjoy it, not because you feel like you have to. It may take some experimenting to figure out an activity that actually reduces your stress, but I hope you can find a creative hobby that brings you joy and peace of mind!

Do you already have a hobby you enjoy that helps manage stress and anxiety? Let’s discuss in the comments!

God bless,

The Cozy Tree Shop Laura Signature

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Unless otherwise stated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

Laura is a Christian, wife, and mother who enjoys creating cozy goods, digital products, and encouraging blog posts to uplift fellow Christian moms. She is newly homeschooling her two kids and loves to crochet, read, and make her family's home cozy.

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