How to Release Post-Holiday Stress with Crochet
By Kathryn Vercillo
The holidays are such a wonderful time of year. We spend time with our family and friends, stay busy with activities and celebrations and enjoy all that we are so lucky to have. They are also hectic, though, and the whirlwind of activity is followed by a few weeks of re-adjusting to our regular lives. Crochet can be the perfect thing to help you find your center again as we start 2013.
Mindfulness  basically just means that you pay close, focused attention to what you are doing in the present moment. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
You can use crochet as a way to practice mindfulness. Simply slow down the act of crocheting and try to pay attention to every detail of what you are doing. Notice the colors of the yarn as you work, the way that the hook feels against your skin, the thoughts you have when dealing with a frustrating stitch pattern, the satisfaction you feel at the end of each row. Simply pay careful attention to the craft in your hand and try to release any other thoughts as you work.
Many people find that difficult crochet patterns are best for mindfulness crochet because they force you to stop thinking about other things and pay attention to each step of what you are doing. For that reason, you may want to try a new technique, such as learning how to do Tunisian crochet . Alternatively, you may want to choose an intermediate or advanced-level pattern. Some good free intermediate patterns include Katherine Eng’s Brilliant Buttterfly Pillow  and Sam Shubitz’s Lace on the Bias  top (Crochet Today, Jul./Aug. 2010 ).
While difficult patterns do encourage focused concentration, you can also get a lot of benefit from very simple patterns that utilize the same basic stitch pattern again and again. These patterns lull your mind and body with their rhythmic repeats and physically reduce your stress. Sarah Graham’s Super Simple Charity Blankie  is a good example of a project like this one.
Crochet as Self-Care
The holidays are a time when we gave a lot to others. That’s a great thing to do but it’s also very important to practice self-care. January is a great time to indulge yourself with crochet. The main way to do this, of course, is to simply take the time to crochet because you enjoy it. Make your crochet area as comfortable as possible by adding favorite candles, music or blankets to your work area. If you really want to treat yourself then take the time to crochet something unique for yourself. A necklace, sweater or socks are great treats that you can give yourself to de-stress as we start this new year!
There are a lot of wonderful patterns to choose from in our upcoming March/April 2013 issue  that would be great for a rare item that you make just for you! For example, you may want to crochet yourself the Stained Glass Necklace  by Robyn Chachula or the Petunia Hat  by Linda Permann or try one of our many free patterns  online to enjoy a relaxing, healthy New Year with crochet.