***Disclaimer: this blog post was written a few days after taking a spill on my bike and hitting my head while coming down a mountain in Spain. It may be a wee bit disjointed (But, don’t worry! I’m completely ok).
This year for Thanksgiving I decided I was going to avoid the whole thing, take the #optoutside to whole new level and go to Mallorca, Spain to cycle around the island for four days. All was going as planned: the weather was holding out, I was feeling good, pedaling up and down mountains, the scenery was as lovely as always… Until, suddenly, with no warning, in the last two kilometers of a fourteen kilometer descent, my bike and I were both on the ground.
Things can change so quickly. I’m fine. I was fine. The guide for the cycling tour I was on magically appeared on the road literally seconds after I fell. He picked me up, put me in the van and off we went to the emergency clinic in Palma. A couple hours later, with five stitches in my head, I was back in the van eating a sandwich on the way to the hotel.
Now, I suppose you’re all wondering what this has to do with sewing. I’m getting there – I think (I do have five stitches in my head after all).
Taking a spill like that – one that could have resulted in very dire results if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet – makes a person thankful for a lot of things – like helmets and hand/eye coordination and muscles that heal, and functioning limbs and digits. I was very lucky, with only slight occasional dizziness resulting.
What I’ve rediscovered in the past few days is that the two activities that I find the most comfort in, biking and sewing, are also very therapeutic. I knew that before but sometimes I forget and need a reminder.
Both biking and sewing are repetitive activities that I’m able to do without really thinking (as long as I’m sewing something straight forward). Sewing (and biking) are forms of meditation. I can lose all sense of time when doing both of them. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explained that sometimes when your brain is busy creating something, it doesn’t have enough attention left over to think about other problems and ends up in a state of meditation that quiets the fight or flight reflexes caused by stress. Interesting, right?
Also, when you do something pleasurable, your brain releases dopamine that acts as an anti depressant. Both sewing and cycling do this for me. I certainly wouldn’t necessarily recommend everyone hopping right back on the bike after knocking their head but for me, it was the right thing. I had people to ride with and keep an eye on me and I was able to enter a quiet space of meditation with sun and sky all around me.
Sewing may also help protect your brain against some symptoms of aging. Neuroplasticity means that our brains can adapt to the environment. Activities such as sewing stimulate the brain and may improve neuroplasticity which in turn, can ward off early dementia.