Stress relief? yes; Anger management? no

One of the reasons that I love making things in my shop is that it is a major source of stress relief. Focusing my attention on thinking about how to make a new object, designing the pattern, cutting out the pieces, sewing them together, and finishing the final object is very therapeutic. Whatever the worries and concerns that have built up during the day or over the week, focusing on the immediate job at hand tends to lighten my load. Not coincidently, I also tend to solve problems unrelated to leatherwork while I’m working in the shop.

The key to the stress management is that my focus turns from the stress-causing things to my leatherwork, and this change of focus resets my mind and body.

Anger management is another issue. After a particularly tough day at work yesterday, I had plenty of stress but also a good dose of anger. I was replaying the events of the day to try to figure out what to do next, and I found my teeth clenching and my neck and shoulders tense and aching. A perfect opportunity for a nice run, rowing on my machine, or punching a big bag (which I don’t have but might need to get someday…). Instead, I decided to go into my shop to “blow off a little steam”.

Bad idea!!

The knife won this round.
The knife won this round.

Working with extremely sharp knives and cutting objects that I’ve been working on for days is not the best way to “blow off a little steam”. Within 2 minutes in my shop, still thinking of the problems of the day and not really focusing on my very nice bag that I had spent days working on, I sliced a chunk of flesh off of the top of my finger.

The good news:

1) The cut is very small and superficial. The disk that came off is only about 3/8″ in diameter. It will heal soon.

2) I didn’t bleed all over my very nice bag that I had spent days working on.

3) My knife was finally really sharp. (this is always a quest of mine, but I usually test it in less painful ways)

The bad news:

1) I was still angry

2) I was also feeling very stupid

Bag almost done...
Bag almost done…

The best news) I still have my finger and learned a good lesson: don’t pick up a sharp knife when I’m not ready to think about what I’m doing with the knife. Live in the moment…

Author: edisonleatherworks

I'm a biochemistry professor and leatherworker who likes bicycles, travel, art, education, and music. Walking is my favorite form of transportation, and I regularly practice Tai Chi.

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