A Sew of Hands. Thoughts From a Self-Professed “Threadhead”.

by Ramona on April 13, 2012

We bring a thoughtfiul, fantastic guest post today from member Judy Spinney, who is ASG’s North Jersey Chapter President. The article first appeared on the cover of the North Jersey chapter’s newsletter; our thanks to Judy for giving us permission to re-print it on the ASG blog, so we can show off thoughtful, analytical & multi-talented people on our membership roster & chapter leadership.  Take it away, Judy!  Samina.

Threadhead Judy Spinney

Recently I attended a seminar, “Food, Stress and the Brain.” It was presented by the Institute of Natural Resources, a well researched medically oriented lecture series for continuing education in a variety of fields. There was a lot of brain biology to wade through as well as statistics and human anatomical terminology. Also there were a lot of flow charts, with arrows leading from “sedentary lifestyle” to “stress” and “overeating” to ”depression” and to “obesity”. Later in the seminar, when the speaker finally was showing what we can actually do to change the cycle, there they were in the flow chart…a pair of hands! Specifically the hands were there to represent sewing! Yay! Finally, someone with initials after her name has given validation to what we have known for years. We “get it” as to the value of sewing and other handwork and we know that when we go to a guild activity we will be surrounded by others who “get it.”

When we sew, we “activate effort driven rewards circuitry”in the brain. Whew! Too many words! Here is the direct quote from the handout:

“Any activity that requires you to use your hands that you enjoy, (e.g. cooking, gardening, crafts, knitting, sculpture, chopping wood), especially if it puts you in the “flow zone,” will energize your effort driven rewards circuit and help build resilience. Such tasks reinforce that idea that you can use your hands to interact with the environment in purposeful, meaningful ways.”

Lambert, Kelly, Lifting Depression: A neuroscientist’s Hands –On Approach to Activating Your Brain’s Healing Power., 2008, Basic Books, New York, NY.

I don’t know who you are, Ms. Lambert, but I bought your book!

We know that sewing is essentially sedentary, as are many jobs. I do jump up to press seams open every few minutes, even setting up little challenges for myself since I know my iron will cut off in 10 minutes if I don’t use it.

We also know that sewing is highly rewarding. It involves several areas of the brain, sensory (color and touch), planning, spatial relationships and problem solving. We also know that incredible reward of looking at the changes brought about in the fabric by our various manipulations. When you hold up that pieced 9 patch or that beautifully inserted zipper, there is a flow of energy that we know to be good for us!

What are other ways to manage stress? Oh, you already know them: get plenty of rest, eat right and get lots of exercise. Now we can add: Sew, sew , SEW!!!  

Judy Spinney

Readers, feel free to comment in the section below on this subject. Let’s have a “Show of Hands” on this topic.

Samina, American Sewing Guild, follow us on Twitter @SewingGuild

{ 1 comment }

Ruth Ellen Larson-Hummel April 25, 2012 at 2:46 am

I agree…we should sew, sew, sew to incorporate all those good features into our brain’s activity. Now if the schools could bring back this practical learning to the next generation, we could offer artistic, mathematical, socially correct, esteem building and common sense in one class that would stay with them all their lives…

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