The latest Sewing for Self-Care: Your Story post is here and comes to us from Jenny of Jenny DIY! When Jenny reached out asking whether she could share her story, the questions she was raising totally struck a chord with me. At the time, I’d been dealing with a desire to step back from my sewing and practice other forms of self-care. In this post, Jenny discusses this issue of timing in self-care and how we might manage our desire to sew with our expectations of the results that it can deliver to our mental health. I hope that you find this post as thoughtful and reflective as I do!
*If you’d like to contribute your own story to this series, details can be found at the bottom of the post.*
I’ve been sewing all my life, but it has only been recently that I have realised how much of an impact it has on my mental health.
My sewing journey began when I was a child making clothes for dolls. When I was a teenager, I created some very dodgy clothes! I got my first sewing machine when I was 18/19 and was using my spare time at university learning dressmaking.
From my teenage years, I’d had anxiety. During my mid-twenties I’d learnt that therapy, in particularly CBT was a treatment for the anxiety I had. I was learning to retrain my brain.
Therapy taught me that the relationship between sewing and my mental health was vital. It taught me that sewing is who I am, what I’m good at and a way to keep myself grounded. The state of mind I had whilst sewing was what I needed to transfer to my everyday life to move away from anxiety.
When I’m sewing it’s just me and my rules. It’s my achievements and failures. The time I spend sewing is time to be me with no judgement from others or myself.
From the first skirt I ever made, to the first collared shirt and getting my garments to fit perfectly, my sewing journey has made me feel like I can do anything. The clothes I get to make and wear bring me so much joy. Sewing is the ultimate self-care practice!
If this is the case, then why do I sometimes feel like sewing can feel like a chore? I hunch over the machine and tense my shoulders. This isn’t ideal for my self-care!
When I sew I have to be motivated. The machine needs setting up and everything has to be set up right. It has to be light, warm and I need to feel wide awake.
Sometimes sewing is not my self-care. It’s often the little things, the boring things that are self-care practices that ‘work’ the most. Washing your hair and making your bed. Taking deep breaths when you first leave the house in the morning. Eating healthy food and making sure your home is neat and tidy. Those ‘boring’ self-care activities can keep your mind clear and accomplished.
I often set my heart on sewing projects and have a huge to-do list of things to sew, things to amend. My dreaming up projects and constant need to be ‘productive’ doesn’t help my headspace! Is sewing more of a burden to my self-care?
Speaking to Laura about this, she explained that “when our self-care practices become a chore or a stressor, it’s really an indication that we need to be more responsive to ourselves and our requirements in the given moment”.
That’s why I have a struggle with sewing for self-care. I never want to force myself to sew because it will make me feel better. But sewing has been a huge help for my mental health.
I get such a feeling of accomplishment and energy when I do something amazing. It boosts my self-esteem and makes me feel great about myself. It makes me feel like I can achieve so much, and this is the state of mind I have to bring to my every day anxious life.
Sewing might be self-care for some people, at all times, but for me, it’s self-care at a specific time. If I can do my ‘boring’ self-care practices and keep my mind clear, then I can get stuck into my sewing projects. The more I can sew and be myself, the more I can continue to grow my sewing skills, and continue to keep my mind healthy and happy.
A huge thanks to Jenny for this super thoughtful post! Be sure to take a look at her blog – Jenny DIY – to see pictures of some more gorgeous makes and follow her on her sewing journey!
If you’d like to contribute your own story about using sewing for self-care, please get in touch. You can email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – or message me via Instagram/Twitter – @sewforvictoryuk. Alternatively, make sure to check out my original post introducing this series and starting this larger community conversation about using sewing for self-care.