Do you find it difficult to slow down, relax and let go of your worries? Learn how to relieve stress with needle felting!

Needle felters all around the world like emphasising how therapeutic this special craft is. So, let's see how needle felting can help you relieve stress and reduce anxiety!

What is needle felting

Collage of needle felted figurines 3

In case you haven't heard of this interesting handcraft, needle felting is the process of turning wool into different 3D sculptures, decoration pieces or 2D art with the help of a special needle that have notches along its shaft.

When you poke the needle into the wool the notches catch the fibre and tangle them with other fibres. A lot depends on how long you needle felt that lump of wool and from what kind of directions. You can create lots of different shapes. It is also your choice how firm you want to felt your figurine.

Take a look at the video below to see how to needle felt a simple ball.

Click to play

How needle felting can help you relieve stress and reduce anxiety

If you've watched the video  about how to needle felt a ball, you may wonder how this seemingly simple craft which involves some wool, a special needle and some stabbing can help you if you're feeling stressed. I'll explain in a minute. But first, I have to note that all the positive effects needle felting can have on someone's health come from practising it not just once and not just for a short time, say 30 minutes.

Hand working on needle felted sloth face

Stress evaporates in the flow state

Imagine this: You are so focused on something that you lose track of time. You don't even realise that it's way past lunch time and you haven't eaten since breakfast. But it doesn't even bother you one bit. Moreover, you concentrate so much on what you are doing that your worries basically don't exist then and there. And the thought of other tasks doesn't even cross your mind.

You are not nervous at all, you have clarity about what you are doing. And you have a goal with your activity. Also, everything you do seems effortless because you are full of energy. Interestingly, your mind is clear and your ego vanishes. You are shielded: tiredness, brain fog and distractions can't reach you. That's when you are in the zone.

If you have experienced all of this, then you're one of the lucky ones who have been in a mental state that is called the FLOW. This term is named by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It is defined as 'the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity' (1). You can read more about it in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

When there are no distractions and all negative thoughts and worries evaporate and only the enjoyment of the activity at hand remains, it's easy to feel relaxed and calm. Needle felting - and any other handcraft actually - can help you get there.

What activities cannot promote the flow state

It's important to mention that passive activities like watching TV cannot help you enter the flow state. In the same way taking a bath or getting a massage will not help you get in the zone. That's passive relaxation which is different from the flow state. If you want the flow, you need to do some kind of activity. Something that you are motivated to do and not one that you should do or you are told to do.

How needle felting can help you enter the flow state

Now, that you know what the flow is and how it could help, let's see what its conditions are. And how needle felting can help you get there.

  • You need to know how to needle felt. Choose a project that offers detailed instructions with photos and/or videos. 
  • Have a goal with your needle felting. Knowing why you are stabbing that lump of wool will help maintain focus. This does not have to be a big goal, a beginner project will do if you're just starting out.
  • You need to to see how your needle felting project is going - aka feedback. This way you can adjust your technique to be able to craft towards the goal.
  • This condition can be easily met thanks to the nature of needle felting. If you are adding smaller amounts of wool to your project, you'll always be able to see whether you are doing it right or wrong.
  • The difficulty of your chosen needle felting project and your skills must have a good balance.  Having a challenge is important to maintain focus and the desire to make the project.
  • However, if you overshoot and choose a more advanced project (simply because you like that it looks better) and you've never done any needle felting before, then you won't be able to either enter the flow state or stay in it for long.
  • On top of that, it can make you anxious as well making you give up on this awesome craft - and that would be a huge loss. So, try to aim for projects that are 'a bit above' your level.

And if you can't wait to get started, try making pumpkins first! Learn how to poke a lump of wool to turn it into a pumpkin with a tutorial that meets the above mentioned conditions. Click on the photo below!

Needle felted pumpkin tutorial post image

Are you ready to relieve stress with needle felting?

Learning how to get in the flow state can be one of the most beneficial things to learn if you are struggling with stress and anxiety. And with the help of needle felting you can learn how to calm your mind and feel centred again. 

It can also be a really good stress-relieving option for those who have already tried meditation but find sitting in one place too challenging and prefer to do something - especially with their hands. Think about it as active or creative meditation! 

If you would like to know more, read my post about 'How to practise self-care with needle felting'.

How to practise self-care with needle felting

Are you ready to give it a try? Let me know in the comments below? Have fun and see you in the zone!

Happy felting!

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