Feeling Well: Using the Augmented Touch of E-Textiles to Embody Emotion and Environment as a “Self-Health” Intervention for Female Student Wellbeing

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COVID-19 led to unprecedented levels of isolation for students, and the withdrawal of social support mechanisms left them detached from their networks. This significantly affected their mental health, with more female than male students reporting increased anxiety. Unparalleled restrictions in accessing outdoor environments led to a sense of nature-deficit which further compounded their stress. As learning off-campus becomes the new social norm, students are seeking alternative ways to self-support their emotional wellbeing. This paper explores how students can take a ‘self-health’ approach by drawing upon the restorative powers of nature as a coping mechanism. It considers individuals’ relationships between their personal environments and somatosensory experiences through the medium of e-textiles. The research is underpinned by Attention Restoration Theory and Stress Reduction Theory. Utilising a bricolage methodology it extends the author’s previous research in this field and explores these theories through textile-led, practice-based research. It describes the design of 3 crafted e-textile concepts to explore alternative approaches to self-managing student mental wellbeing. The concepts investigated ways that students could connect virtually with nature through e-textiles using affective touch and haptic-mnemonics to embody natural environments. The textiles sensed physiological biomarkers related to un-noticed stress and created augmented cues which triggered felt experiences and tactile memories. These moderated the biomarkers and educed a sense of calm. The concepts demonstrated the potential to integrate with everyday clothing and create opportunities for students to enhance awareness and management of their mental wellbeing. The mixed-methods research was evaluated through a focus group. The results affirmed that the concepts had technology and social value and were effective in moderating stress by creating place-attachment. The paper concludes that commingling opportunities for visual, virtual and embodied feedback through augmented and affective touch creates a ‘somato-haptic nexus’ which offers a complementary model of early intervention for self-supported student wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-110
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Issue number1-2
Early online date23 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 23 Aug 2023


  • e-textiles
  • Student wellbeing
  • Embodied emotion
  • Tactile memories
  • Haptic-Mnemonics
  • Somato-Haptic


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