wellness

In the age of 'peak anxiety,' millennials might be onto something with cross stitching.

On Sunday morning I found myself doing a very peak millennial thing.

Standing in the aisles of Lincraft, I contemplated yarn width, hoop circumference and needle eye gauge. After a good half hour of browsing, I left with a beginner’s cross stitching kit, an embroidery hoop and the pipe dream that one day I would be able to stitch into fruition something like this:

 

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A post shared by Amy Jones (@cheese.before.bedtime) on

A brief scroll on your Instagram timelines will tell you that embroidery, cross stitching and the humble, Little Women-esque past time of needlepoint is having a moment.

It joins other millennial trends like pottery, plant parenthood, adult colouring books, painting and pickling, all of which have enjoyed a revival of late. Yes, these activities hold a particular hipster, Instagram-able charm, but it’s the repetitive, tactile action involved in doing these hobbies, which soothes the anxious, hyper-stimulated mind.

Poking a needle in and out of taut canvas creates a therapeutic repetitiveness which calms in a very different way to endless scrolling on social media. It’s the same with pottery. While the classes are expensive, and it’s a lot harder than it looks – trust me – moulding the buttery, cool clay with your hands, as it spins around the wheel, gently forces you to concentrate and be mindful of the present task.

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This in itself, is a form of moving meditation. And if you’re not someone who wants to, or can comprehend closing your eyes and sitting still for 15 minutes while ‘focusing on your breath’, then this kind of stress-busting ritual could be for you.

Science even confirms this. A 2011 study by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University cemented a link between “a healthy dose of repetitive behaviour,” i.e. excluding people who exhibit symptoms which could be linked to Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD), and a reduction in anxiety.

It’s “a way to induce calm and manage stress caused by unpredictability and uncontrollability, [and heightens] our belief that we are in control of a situation that is otherwise out of our hands,” the study states.

While “unpredictability and uncontrollability” are factors which haunt Gen Y and Gen Z – from the anxieties triggered by the climate crisis, to geo-political tensions, the bleak housing market and the well-noted rise in diagnosed mental health disorders – there’s also the issue of screen time to contend with. From the endless scroll of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to the 24-hour news cycle, there’s a never-ending conveyor belt of content designed to grab our attention and illicit quick-fire emotions, like surprise, envy, outrage, sympathy, or disgust. It’s overwhelming , and draining, whether we realise it or not.

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However, in the constant hum of social media, the gentle activity of meditative movement – like cross stitching, gardening, painting or baking – can be the soothing balm our mentally-drained and fatigued brains crave.

It is for mine.

If you’re in need of some smoothing, handicraft-focused inspiration, take a gander at these embroidery-focused Instagram accounts:

@slow_evenings_embroidery

 

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@humayrah_bint_altaf

 

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@cheese.before.bedtime

 

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@allplants_nopants

 

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@harper_amora

 

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@kasiajacquotembroidery

 

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@badasscrossstitch

 

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@oldsoulstitching

 

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@nathaloha_stitches

 

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The feature images in this post are from Instagram users @kasiajacquotembroidery and @allplants_nopants.

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