By: Victoria Kennedy
The Millennial generation is known as the “therapy generation” in mental health circles. More than any generation before them, they have embraced therapy and are leading the charge to destigmatize conversations around mental health in the workplace. I think we can agree this is a welcome shift.
But their interest in therapy and openness to discussing their feelings also reveals a deep sense of vulnerability. Depression is on the rise among Millennials, who have seen a 47% increase in depression diagnoses since 2013. And as much as experts tout the mental health benefits of remote work, working from home comes with its own set of psychological challenges.
The good news is online communities acting as informal support groups are rising in popularity among young people, too. One such community, the Sew-It-Online community, is proving to be an inspiring and positive force among people of all ages.
[Related: Five Tips for Creating a Culture of Health in Your Workplace]
Not your grandma’s sewing circle.
When Jan Brostek opened her brick and mortar shop, Pins and Needles, over 30 years ago in Cleveland, OH, she couldn’t have imagined the role sewers would be playing during the current pandemic. What started as a sew-a-thon among Jan’s community to support healthcare workers at one hospital soon grew into a global Million Mask Challenge.
To date, our community has sewed and donated over two million masks to hospitals, medical clinics, and nursing homes around the country. But beyond this incredible display of generosity, what is so fascinating is how those who have participated in the challenge report how much sewing has helped them with their personal mental health during the crisis.
And it’s no accident that Millennials are a huge driving force behind the resurgence of interest we’ve seen in the first half of 2020. Besides the anxiety that comes with living through a pandemic, remote workers can find themselves forgetting to switch off at the end of the day. This is where sewing comes in.
There is something so uplifting about using your own hands to make something that you know will contribute to ending this pandemic. The online sewing community gives new meaning to the #inittogether campaign. Plus, it gives remote workers something to look forward to at the end of a long workday.
[Related: The Power of the Pivot]
Five stress-reducing benefits of sewing.
If you’ve never considered sewing as a mental health booster, it’s time to experience what generations before us already knew. Sewing has some real therapeutic benefits.
1) It’s a good excuse for some “me time.”
Not that you ever need an excuse to give yourself a breather from the demands of remote working, but sewing is a really constructive way to spend your “me time.” Plus, when your hands are busy sewing, it just might keep the other humans with whom you are quarantined from asking you to do things for them.
2) It’s a good reason to step away from screens.
As if we weren’t experiencing sensory overload because of our devices before the pandemic hit, now with basically every business or social interaction happening online, we’re all taken to the brink of overwhelm every day. Any reason to step away from social media and the 24/7 news cycle is a good reason. So, put down your devices and pick up your needle and thread.
3) It’s mindful and meditative.
The repetitive nature of stitching along the same pattern (e.g., face masks), either using a machine or by hand, may be just what your brain needs to relax and unwind. A mindful activity like sewing is the perfect remedy for the stress our brains experience from a full day of remote work and multitasking. Never underestimate how good it is for your mental health to stop and focus on one thing.
4) It gives a sense of accomplishment.
Completing a creative project is incredibly satisfying. When we set out to create something and accomplish that goal after working steadily for a period of time, we’re proud of what we did. Finishing such projects is invaluable for raising self-esteem.
5) It can increase confidence.
By taking up sewing and deciding to start making clothing for yourself, you may notice an improved sense of confidence. How? Sewing helps you to develop your sense of style. Imagine designing and sewing a unique top to wear to your next Zoom meeting. It’s a great way to show yourself some love.
When you suffer from a dip in your mental health, socializing is an important way to get back to balance. Finding a community online can offer purpose and direction. Whatever your passion, find a way to share it with others.
[Related: Be Unapologetically You]
Victoria Kennedy is the CEO of Atman Real Estate and is currently working on building her PR firm, Victorious PR.