Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stressing My Friends

I started to log in last night to post a comment about my latest unprogress on my complicated Secrets of the Stole project but I was so stressed by a disagreement with one of my lovely teens that I couldn't even think to get the password straight.

I opted instead to sit in bed and read Newsweek. Ironically, the cover article was about how stress can be a good thing - if so, I've got it made. The most interesting part was buried deep in the article about how men and women respond differently to stress. Both genders experience stress as a rise in adrenaline and coritsol. What's different is our reaction. Women are more likely to turn to their social networks, which prompts the release of oxytocin, which mutes the stress systems. If we are surrounded by loved ones when a stressor arises, there some evidence that we don't even show as much of the initial hormonal response, which means less risk of long-term harm to the brain.

It's a scientific explanation of what I have gathered by instinct - turning to friends helps my cope with the challenges (I prefer to think of the issues I face as challenges rather than problems) both big and small that make my life interesting.

Through the benefits of modern technology, I have an extended social network that is available to me even when I can't get out of the house. For you all, I am extremely grateful. I hope in response that I am able to at times relieve the risk of long term harm to your brain.

Speaking of stress - I managed four rows of the extremely complicated pattern only to find I had two stitches too few. I could have just faked it, but why bother with all the work that's already gone into this? It's not going to get done anytime soon anyway so I figured it might as well get done right. I tried tinking back and ended up with two extra stitches!?! So frogged. I am beginning to understand the zen of knitting - in knitting, it's not always about advancing and adding rows, it's about getting it right. If you've gotten no further than you were, but the project looks like it's supposed to, then your time hasn't been wasted. Tinking and frogging bring opportunities to learn more about the craft, to understand how the loops fit together, to see how the pattern forms.

Another article in the Newsweek talked about a Navy training program in which the trainees hands and feet are bound and they are thrown into a pool. Those who struggle and thrash about inevitably fail and have to be rescued. In order to succeed, you have to let yourself sink and then push yourself off the bottom up to the surface where you can get a gasp of air before sinking and doing that again. Sometimes that is how it is in knitting - relax, do the opposite of what your mind says - go back instead of forward - and then you can move ahead. Sometimes that is how it is in life. Not always. Sometimes it is perfectly appropriate to run screaming from the room.


Lisa L said...

Well said!!

Holly Jo said...

Here is something else I have noticed about my knitting - when I get frustrated beyond belief with it and all I want to do is rip it out in anger (not healthy frogging), I must put it down and walk away before I do something drastic and irrational. It is often the way I feel with stubborn three year olds and perhaps is in the ball park of frustration with teenagers! :)

Very funny that article was in Newsweek. :)