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Why the Colors of Yarn and Threads Are Such A Calming Therapy

Aug 18, 2007
The idea of basket weaving as a form of therapy, traditionally used for patients with mental illness is often laughed at. But in a way, there is wisdom in the use of crafts for having a calming effect.

In today's society, the meaning of "slow down", an easy and natural pace, and relaxation, has become pretty close to obsolete in meaning and in activity.

Chronic stress has taken on a whole new meaning to the point of being an epidemic, along with resistant depression, panic disorder, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.

See the correlation between them? The first one causes the second; if you cannot relax, then your body and mind will keep going until it develops a disorder, letting you know "things are really not okay, slow down!"

How many of us feel the need to relax, and sit down with thread and needle to do so? I had a friend, when asked if she sewed or did needlework for relaxation, laughed out loud and said, "Honey! I staple my hems on my pants. Does that SOUND like I like to sew or do needlework?"

Regardless, people of today and in the near future are beginning to take things into their own hands. They don't just blindly call their doctor when they don't feel well, take a med without knowing what it is or the side effects, or take the diagnosis unquestioningly anymore without second opinions.

They research conditions through the Internet; they get second opinions from anyone and everyone; and all the while, talking to other people with similar conditions through support groups or online.

And many, many people are beginning to use alternative methods for their solutions. One such method for stress and mental conditions is the use of color therapy, used with the colored yarns and threads for activities such as cross-stitching and embroidery, and combined with the direction of art therapy in its creativity.

This helps our mind relax, moving it to another sense of direction, and healing with color and creativity.

Color therapy has been around a long time; it is not a new kid on the block, only in the United States. It was not an alternative medicine, but used with light for health treatments clear back in recorded time.

It is speculated that color therapy in all areas originated in the roots of Ayurveda, an ancient India form of medicine practiced for thousands of years. The Chinese and ancient Egyptian cultures also used it as a form of medical treatments. In the United States, color therapy, art therapy, and light therapy are beginning to be recognized as a complementary system to "other traditional treatments".

Recently, chromotherapy and Feng Shui combined their fields; bringing specific colors into homes and workplaces, and attempting to achieve optimum balances of energy. Dr. Peter Mandel, a German acupuncturist and creative naturopath, has natural healing methods" through a process called color-puncture, which is now being taught in many countries.

Color therapy, or colorology, is a process used by itself as an alternative medicine method. Therapists who are trained in chromotherapy use color and light to balance the physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental aspects of the human body.

Traditional medicine is now calling it "integrative therapy" where the body, mind, and soul are all treated simultaneously: different terminology, similar ideas, and identical results.

It is being scientifically proven by chromotherapists that color therapy does work. Many forms are used: art work, light films, colored material, colored water, yarns and threads, colored baskets, colored candles, gemstones, bath treatments, and colored glasses or lenses.

It really doesn't matter what the tool is as long as you are comfortable with it; what matters are the colors used. Different colors are associated with positive and negative effects, and can be used along with hydrotherapy (water therapy) and aromatherapy, to heighten the therapeutic effect.

Each color has a specific healing modality in color therapy. When you are using a red thread in your hands, and visually focusing on the red patterns, things change and develop in your mind and your emotions, affecting all the senses -- not just the five main ones.

Let's look at a few of the different colors, and what purpose they can be used for when designing your next cross-stitch pattern or purchasing yarns or threads:

1. White -- this color is used for regeneration, providing energy and balancing the body's rhythm; it stimulates the production of serotonin, which regulates both the sleep and nervous system. (Why do you think we count "white sheep" to fall asleep?). The color white rebalances the psychophysical and hormonal systems in people who suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorders).

2. Green -- green is a very healing color, which is why plant therapy works so well and herbal therapy is slowly replacing many traditional medicines. It regulates the pituitary gland, fights depression, bulimia, and many psychosomatic conditions affecting the gastric system. It also calms the nervous system, fights irritability, and insomnia. Many color therapists suggest it for individuals who are recovering from nervous breakdowns.

3. Blue -- this is a very soothing, calming color. It reduces blood pressure and stimulates the parasympathetic system -- the system that is referred to as the "rest and digest" system. Blue calms the breathing and the heart rate, has anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing effects (have you ever wondered why "Icy Hot" has a blue tinge when rubbed into your muscles, or the Vick's bottle has a blue color?). It fights tension physically and mentally, and is used in relaxation.

4. Yellow -- this increases neuromuscular tone along with purifying the blood, helping digestion, plus having a cleansing effect, which promotes a sense of security. The color yellow stimulates happiness and a sense of well-being, which is why a good walk outside on a sunny day does wonders to a bad frame of mind!

5. Red -- this powerful color is used to energize and stimulate. It affects the heart by increasing pulse rates and also body temperature. Muscles will increase their tension; excitement will develop along with sensuality and strong emotions. Many early civilizations used the color red in their decor, uniforms, and flags.

A balance of color needs to be worked out and designed, as too much of one color is used, enough white is added for balance.

When a "tight" feeling is felt inside you as you work, then not enough white has been added. Either add more white, or go for some complementary colors for direction.
About the Author
John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.
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