When Life Feels Like It’s Unraveling, Fold It Back Together With a Symbol of Hope

Let’s be honest here: chemo is scary. It’s stressful. It provokes anxiety. After treatment has finished, it can even spark Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in survivors. Each time you enter the hospital doors for treatment, your heart might sink because you know how you’ll feel after it’s done. With all of the negative stress bound up in the experience, the value and importance of relaxation techniques can’t be understated. There are many things you can do to relax, but today I want to tell you about one of my personal favorites: folding origami cranes.


Origami is an incredibly therapeutic art. The repetitive folding creates a sort of rhythm that turns it into a meditative practice. And if you find yourself fidgeting when you’re nervous, making cranes will employ your hands.

Crocheting or coloring can achieve the same ends, but there is one other fabulous thing about making paper cranes: the symbolism. They’ve long been associated with peace, happiness, and longevity. Make enough, and you can string them together with a needle and thread to create an elegant, symbolic streamer to drape wherever you see fit (bonus: if you know and love someone who’s getting married, you can offer to make them cranes for a beautiful DIY decoration).

Want to give it a go? Here’s a video to teach you how!

Here are some extra pieces of advice before you start:

  • If you’ve never made a crane before, learn before starting chemo, if possible (if not possible, give it a shot when you’re attentive and alert). “Chemo brain” is a real thing, and folding cranes for the first few times takes some brain power. After you get the hang of it, however, you can fly through them in minutes.
  • This video tutorial is only one of the many scattered across the internet, and there are several ways to achieve the same end (the woman in the video doesn’t finish her cranes in the same way I do, for example). If this video makes no sense to you or frustrates you, try another tutorial.
  • Better yet, find someone who knows how to make cranes and ask them to teach you. That way, they can walk you through the steps and clarify whatever you don’t understand.
  • Make your folds as sharp and accurate as possible, using your fingernails to crease them. This will make future steps easier and will make the end result look nicer.

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