Carve Away Your Stress

Written by Robin Madell | Published on October 23, 2012

Pumpkin carving isn’t just for kids. Working with your hands is a great way to relieve stress.

Chill Out and Carve

’Tis the season for pumpkin carving—and it’s not just for kids! What’s more stress-relieving—or “adult”—than focusing on a project that’s detail-oriented, absorbing, and allows you to be creative?

Here are just some of the ways pumpkin carving can help relieve your stress this autumn:

  • It allows you to work with your hands and get out of your head.
  • It brings out your inner artist with a winning combo of creativity and concentration.
  • It’s natural—cutting into a fruit like a pumpkin (yes, pumpkins are technically fruits) and digging out the seeds and innards is therapeutic in the same way that gardening is.
  • It’s something you can enjoy with the whole family or on your own for two different kinds of stress management.
  • The process is satisfying and the result is rewarding—an activity that can brighten both your spirits and your porch.

Pick Your Pumpkin

While you can make do with almost any pumpkin, your selection can make a difference in your final product. Try these tips to pick a good one:

1. Buy local.

In addition to supporting a local farmer, the upside of buying a pumpkin that was grown near you means it wasn’t transported on a bumpy ride to reach your local grocer. Long truck transports can lead to pumpkin bang-ups, resulting in nicks, scratches, and dents in the carving surface.

2. Think smooth.

Soft spots on a pumpkin indicate rotting and might mean its best days are already behind it. Look out for blemishes or gouges, which can invite in pests and expedite the decaying process. Try to pick a pumpkin with a relatively smooth surface to work on.

3. Check stability.

To become a jack-o-lantern, your pumpkin needs a candle and flame, which can be a fire hazard if not installed properly. Make sure that your chosen pumpkin has a stable base that will support its weight and make it harder to knock over.

Gather Your Tools

Most of the tools of the pumpkin carving trade can be found in your kitchen, such as:

  • cookie cutters: to use as stencils for tracing patterns
  • ice cream scoop: to dig out the pumpkin’s “innards”
  • serrated knife: to chisel your design to life

Choose Your Pattern

Although carving the traditional triangle eyes and nose and a jagged mouth can reduce stress just as well as a more elaborate design can, you may find that summoning your muse helps dissolve your tension all the more.

In addition to using cookie cutters for patterns, many drugstores and art shops carry stencil designs and pumpkin carving tool kits for a higher degree of customization. These stencils allow even those with little natural artistic ability to create a virtual masterpiece. 

Read More About Halloween:

Halloween Candy Facts: What’s in the Bag? »
Keep Your Kids Safe on Halloween »
Halloween Home Safety »
Healthy Halloween Treats »
Keeping Your Pet Safe on Halloween »

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Read This Next

Craft Your Way to a Stress-free Holiday
Craft Your Way to a Stress-free Holiday
The holiday season is a wonderful time to reconnect with family—but it is also a busy time, and that can add up to stress. Fortunately, there’s one old-fashioned holiday tradition that studies have shown may help relieve the symptoms of stress: Ar...
10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
It wasn't until the late 1950s that endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and documented stress. Since then, scientists and health professionals have been working hard to help millions combat stress. Learn 10 ways you can relieve stress.
10 Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
10 Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house? Take these tips for navigating your way around the kitchen and through a successful holiday meal.
IBS Home Remedies That Work
IBS Home Remedies That Work
IBS is a chronic condition. Prevent the unpleasantness by treating it with remedies like working out, learning to relax, and making smart food choices.
The 18 Best Anxiety iPhone & Android Apps of 2014
The 18 Best Anxiety iPhone & Android Apps of 2014
No matter your anxiety issue, getting help is important. Beyond treatment, use these 18 apps to reduce anxiety and restore peace and serenity in your life.