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Why I like clay

June 6th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Through Lisa Williams I found a link to Knitting, playing musical instruments good for post traumatic stress says UK psychologist

I wonder if this therapy applies to cookie-baking too. Sure, the chocolate and margarine appeal to my anxiety, that temptation to escape into sugar and fat. Yet I find when I am feeling stressed that if I make something in the kitchen, knead bread, shape scones or scoop cookies, the tension dissipates.

I don’t have slabs of clay lying around the house that I can knead and throw. But I’ve noticed a need to do something tangible with my hands to unwind. Cooking has been the best substitute I’ve found for clay. Pottery, although therapeutic, requires equipment. I like the creative release and intensity of throwing pots. But perhaps I can find a new substitute.

Dr. Holmes gave a presentation at the British Psychological Society at their annual conference, London, UK. She explained an experiment she did on volunteers. They had to tap a complex pattern onto a keypad while at the same time being shown films of bloody road accidents.

The tapping, she explained, disrupted the brain’s ability to absorb disturbing images and return to them later in unpleasant flashbacks. She said knitting probably achieves the same result as the knitter focuses on patterns and colours and needles.

I’ve always believed that emotional release occurs through creating, whether it was knitting, baking, writing poetry or making music. It always comforts me when medical science confirms my suspicions and validates my experience. Now that I’m trying to cut down on cookies, I’ll be finding other alternatives for stress release – look for our family to be fully clothed in matching scarves by the fall 🙂

P.S. Actually I’m not much of a knitter. I started a scarf in the fall and it is still at the same stage since December, no larger than a postcard. It lay languishing on my desk for months.

But maybe this connection is why knitting is becoming more popular. I am not a kinesthetic person and when I’m listening to someone or having a conversation, knitting – especially since I am not that skilled – distracts me. But I wonder whether those people who can knit while conversing or commuting, listening, etc. have lower stress levels in their lives. It’d be easy preventative medicine…perhaps health insurance companies will begin inquiring: do you knit? Play musical instruments? Pray the rosary? Type on a keyboard…

(perhaps blogging will be proven good for health?!)

Tags: journal

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anita Rowland // Jun 6, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    I did some knitting at the Bellingham highland games on Saturday, while listening to a celtic fiddlers group. The two patterns went together very well!

  • 2 Jenny Ingram // Jun 6, 2004 at 11:05 pm

    I think baking or cooking can apply here! I find when I get to create in the kitchen (especially without the special help my children give!) I get the same sort of feeling of accomplishment, a rush perhaps… Granted, the “prize” is not long-lasting, but if it was yummy, that is reward enough!