Thursday, September 6, 2018

Brain work

I read an article the other day that said, basically, busy hands may be the way to making our brains very happy.  Perhaps so.  Back in the day, I worked with a woman who loved to iron.  When she’d had a particularly stressful day, she’d iron clothes – everything including underwear and socks.  Not my idea of a relaxing thing to do, but …. 

The article, written by a research neuroscientist, went on to say that when we engage in certain types of activities – hand work – we change the neurochemistry in our brain similarly to how drugs work.  She said, in the 19th century doctors used to prescribe knitting to individuals overwrought by anxiety.  May sound simple but the repetitive movement and concentration increases and releases certain neurochemicals plus the end result is something pleasing – a hat or scarf or afghan.  Double bonus!

As I think about it, I find washing dishes, folding laundry, doing yard work, embroidery, crochet – those things, not soothing exactly but maybe comforting.  And, I have a positive end result.  Interesting.

I find it very hard to just sit without doing some type of activity.  That said, over the past several months I’ve been working on Christmas ornaments.  I make one for each grandchild every year.  The thought being that when they are grown and have their own tree, they will already have 20-odd ornaments made just for them.  So, now, when I sit down to, say, watch tv, I do a form of embroidery called cross stitch.  Making my brain happy while producing something pleasing.  Wow – who knew.

Many people think of cross stitch as – something simple, certainly not art, not really embroidery.  Wrong.  You start with a pattern on a piece of paper and a piece of blank fabric. 

And, count stitches.  Sometimes you can miss a stitch without problem but the ornaments I worked on this year – no missing any stitches or the pattern wouldn’t work.  I think I took out half as many as I put in.

Next, they have to be washed, stretched, trimmed to size, backed and the finish work done.  Finally, you end up with a piece of unique art.  And, a happy brain!

Take care

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