Worrying seems to have become part of our cultural DNA nowadays. Between our busy jobs, schedules, and to-do lists, we’re constantly coming up with new stress-based strategies for living.
Worrying can quickly feel like it’s taking over your life. Many of us have experienced the seemingly endless cycle of stress that comes with spending sleepless nights worrying: first worrying about our immediate problems — kids, finances, uncompleted tasks — then worrying about the lost sleep, then worrying about worrying too much!
We all know we need to stop worrying to lead longer and healthier lives. Fortunately, the Mayas figured out how to reduce worry and anxiety-related insomnia centuries ago — all it took was some leftover scraps from weaving, wood splinters, and a little bit of magic. Curious?
An Ancient Legend
The origins of the legend are unknown, but worry dolls are a tradition passed down from generation to generation. People in every locale in the Guatemalan highlands, from Sacatepéquez to Chimaltenango, from Quiche to Sololá, maintain the worry doll custom and believe that these magical creations have the power to improve lives.
How Worry Dolls Work
When family members are worried or suffering from nightmares, relatives present them with a worry doll or set of worry dolls made from recycled bits of foot loom fabric and sticks. When placed in the palm of the hand or under a pillow, the dolls become confidantes of sorts, listening to their whispered fears and worries. According to legend, those troubles are then transferred to the dolls and taken away. The next morning, when the doll is placed in a box, the worry is forever bound there, never bothering the worrier again.
How to Make Your Own Worry Doll
NOVICA recently caught up with Clara Luz Sanchez and her family, who have been making worry dolls for afflicted relatives for years in San Lorenzo el Cubo, a small village near Antigua, Guatemala. Clara was kind enough to share how to make these precious dolls so that you can live worry-free as well!
Materials: recycled foot loom fabric (or plain old colored cotton), panty hose, sponge, 100% cotton thread, metal wire, craft paper, and reed fiber sticks.
1. Frame: First make the “skeleton” with the reed sticks and paper-lined wire. A simple cross shape will do to create the structure for a doll wearing a skirt.
2. Head: Now make the head with the panty hose fabric material stretched over the sponge, which can then be stuck to the skeleton.
3. Face: Sew the face with the thread. (If you prefer, you can also draw the face on with a permanent marker.)
4. Clothing: Dress the doll with the colorful fabrics! Tie the end of a long piece of cotton around the middle of the doll, wrapping the fabric around the body and down the legs, then tie off the loose thread.
2. Headdress: The last step is to dress the worry doll with a small piece of fabric, covering its head with the type of veil traditionally worn by Mayan women.
Bring Home the Legend of the Worry Doll
Clara tells of many happy experiences with the dolls: not only does her family make them with a lot of love for their craft, but with a little bit of faith, the dolls really work and take worries away.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. You likely have a friend or family member in need of a little stress relief, so make them a worry doll today and soon you’ll see their worries evaporate. Not the crafting type? Purchase their favorite handcrafted item from NOVICA Central America instead and receive an authentic Guatemalan worry doll free with the packaging.
So next time you find yourself losing sleep with worry and stress, remember the legend of the humble worry doll. With a little bit of faith, you and your loved ones will be sleeping soundly in no time!
Are worry dolls already helping you sleep soundly? Tell us about it in the comments!