We’ve all experienced “being in the zone”; that space where we are so totally engrossed in what we are doing that all distractions disappear. When we are dealing with stress and anxiety, I truly believe one of the fastest ways to find our zone is to make something with our hands. Whether you build a birdhouse or bake a cake, creating something new requires our full attention, and generally rewards us with the sense of a job well done. By the time we are finished, our problems may seem less problematic, and we find our stress and anxiety don’t seem half as bad.
Our ancestors had lots of platitude to help them raise their families. Some seem too strict for our modern lives, but they carry some psychological wisdom. For instance, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” An easy excuse to get more work out of other people? Perhaps. But being short, it is easier to remember than “If you don’t have anything to do, you’ll start to fret, and get yourself all worked up for no reason.” Not so catchy, and open to argument, especially if you feel you have reason indeed.
Often we do have good reasons for why we feel anxious or under stress. But dwelling on our problems never makes them any better. Without engaging activity, we can become bored and agitated, and begin to create negative scenarios in our minds. When that happens, we might benefit by remembering about idle hands.
A world full of passive stimulation
Our lives are full of things vying for our attention. But much of what we give our attention to requires little participation on our part. We sit in front of our TVs to be entertained and sold to, our empty hands search for bags of crunchy snacks, and we go to bed more tired than if we hadn’t sat down at all.
I am certainly a fan of movies, and some TV, but I am also aware that the escape from reality only lasts until the story ends, and is only a moderate distraction. Doing some sort of handwork while watching TV is an easy way to engage more of your mind, ignore the commercials, and stay more alert. Accomplishing something you want to do also removes the feeling that you are just wasting time. If you only give your full attention to shows you adore, you may also find them more entertaining because they are more apt to stand out from the general noise.
Don’t feel creative? Learn something new.
You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. The prevalence of craft stores across America attests to the idea that people get pleasure from making things. Take some time to explore ideas you never thought of. Until I decided to research another article about Zen doodling, I had no idea there was an enormous subculture of women who relieve stress and anxiety by creating pen and ink designs.
If one thing you try doesn’t really give you enjoyment, move on to something else. Many people I know find there is nothing like chopping up vegetables or pounding out dough to work out stress. For me, it means the risk of losing a finger, and my kitchen is far from a stress free zone.
Feel free to explore beyond traditional women’s skills. If you’ve always wanted to know what goes on inside an internal combustion engine, take an auto mechanics class, get in there and tear one apart. Some women are far happier with a jigsaw in their hands than a crochet hook. These days we have access to learn just about anything we want to, and women have even learned to build their own homes.
Once you find a creative outlet that totally absorbs your attention, you can find a rare sort of release from the hurry and worry of daily life. You will build a new appreciation of your possibilities, and can create things that are uniquely yours. It’s an experience you don’t get anywhere else, and lets you leave your stress and anxiety behind.
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