I recently had a good reminder of what it takes to relieve my stress. For some people, it is exercise. For others, it is music. For me, it is something else.
From mid-May until almost the end of June, my arm was in a sling because of a sprained collarbone, and my stress levels skyrocketed. My brain started to race about problems at work, kids leaving home, the fact that I couldn't tie my shoelaces, and on, and on, and on. I was waking up at 3am and my thoughts would churn, and churn, and churn. I didn't put two and two together until my arm came out of the sling.
When I was finally able to use both hands again, I did so with gusto, finishing one 20-year old unfinished project and starting on another, slightly younger UFO project. As I did so, I realized that my body and mind were starting to relax. I was reminded once again how important it is for me to be able to sew things... create things... make things... call it what you will. At the times when I am not involved in a creative project, my mind dwells on situations and problems that magnify out of proportion to the actual situations. Give me a project to work on that is of my own making and my mind has other, more pleasant things to think about in the wee hours of the morning, or at any other time when my monkey brain (as I call that 3am overactive overthinking organ) threatens to take over.
My current project was started at the end of my Masters program in 2009, and has lain dormant ever since. I remember the basic idea (mosaic quilt, gradations of rainbow colours), but will have to go back to my notes and jog my memory for the details that will be added, once the background is complete. I have one more colour to finish on that background, and then I can immerse myself once again in modes of learning, which is where this quilt started.
I still wake up at 3am occasionally, but have been able to keep the monkey brain under control a bit better and it doesn't keep me awake as much as it used to. When it threatens to, I have other, more constructive things to let it chew on, so it needn't churn over the useless thoughts as it did before. I call that progress. Let's hope it continues.