Stress & Creativity


“Stress can be addiction and worry can be our lunge for control and we forget the answer to this moment.”

-Ann Voscamp, pg. 143 One Thousand Gifts Devotional

There they are, words on a page that leap out at me in the semi-dark, silent, not-quite morning. I had previously stumbled onto a site online where a woman was recounting the horrific problems she had had following the exact surgery I just had. That familiar grip in my belly… the room bending in and out of shape. I grabbed hold of worry, perhaps as if it were a blanket that might soothe me, only to find it was filled with nettles, prickling every inch of me. Stress, worry, even fear…surely we all face these things. Yet it doesn’t make them any less gripping, nor does it make them go away.

“…we forget the answer to this moment.”


I’ve discovered an amazing connection between creativity and battling stress and worry. Early on, my artistic pursuits were propelled by sheer joy. I simply loved putting paint to paper and canvas. Still do. I also knitted up color as if it were paint and found that same joy bubbling up. But as the years went on, I realized those endeavors also had a way of calming my fears, lowering stress, diminishing worry.

I’ve often been asked how it is I do these things in the midst of a busy life. “They are my sanity!” I say. “And I need a lot of sanity!”


The interesting part is that with each stroke and stitch, gratitude wells up. As I draw the everyday things, places and people of my life I see what I’ve been given and that it is beautiful. As I stitch with needles or hook, prickly worries are chased away by the swords of color and form.

For Ann Voscamp, “The answer to this moment”, is gratitude. The answer to moment’s of worry or stress is to be thankful. Her methods for connecting with and calling out this thanks lies chiefly in writing them down and photographing them. I too write them down in that list form she challenged me to begin three years ago when I read her book One Thousand Gifts. But I also draw and knit to find the gratitude I need to chase away what can so easily paralyze me.


Therefore it is NOT a silly thing that one might make Art Before Breakfast (Danny Gregory’s latest book out soon!). It’s a rightful ordering of the day’s priorities. Nor is it crazy that another might take their knitting project bag along with them everywhere–fitting in a few stitches of gratitude around the beautiful and not-so-beautiful edges of our everyday lives.

So the next time worry threatens to choke me, I’ll continue reaching for my pens and paints, my sock knitting or in-process crochet blanket.

Won’t you join me in this battle against worry and stress? It’s lovely to have traveling companions!

Stress Relief Knitting


A few weeks back, at a soccer game of Maddie’s, I had to go stand way down at the far end of the field behind all the parents on the line.

The stress was getting to me.

Multiple coaches (I don’t understand why this is needed?) were hollering on the sidelines at the girls. Parents were hollering. All the other games surrounding us…there was hollering.

Oh. Did I mention there was a lot of hollering?

And a lot of scoring. By the other team. :/

My fingers itched. I needed to be doing something besides listening to all the hollering and watching the other team score.

So the next time…


Yep. I brought my knitting with me! Yay for me! Because I didn’t stress out nearly so much!

There was still hollering. And some scoring (by both teams, but mostly the other). But my hands were busy. I can watch a soccer game even though I’m knitting rounds and rounds of stockinette on a sock.

And boy did I motor along on this sock! Wow.

*Note to self: When you want to speed up your knitting–go to a soccer game and knit!

**Second note to self: When you’re feeling a bit stressy–knit! And it will relieve the stress immensely!


Then when you’ve finished knitting your socks, you can sit back with them cozying your feet.

No stress there at all. 🙂

***End Note: “Hollering” is the North Carolina mountain term for “yelling”. Just to be clear. 🙂

Oh. And I grew up in the mountains of NC. Just to be clearer. (or is it “more clear”…?)