Did you know that knitting and crochet have similar mood boosting properties to yoga and meditation? Studies are showing that the craft can help support mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and addiction. Read on to discover why.
Rhythm & Repetition, Rest & Digest
The natural rhythm of knitting is part of the reason for its mood enhancing benefits. As we sit comfortably in a chair and focus on the repetitive action of the needlework our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This is our rest and digest mode, slowing the heart rate down and reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels. If you suffer from anxiety, your body may be in constant ‘fight or flight’ mode. By taking the time to knit you make a positive switch and allow the body and mind to naturally soften and calm down.
Getting into the Flow
Knitting requires dedicated focus and concentration. It binds our hands and our minds, both a creative task and a mental challenge. It allows us to get totally lost within the yarns, and this truly is where the beauty lies. Psychologists and meditators alike call this ‘flow-state’. It’s that feeling where you are totally absorbed in the task at hand, utterly in the present moment and the world around seems to disappear. Hours can fly by learning a new technique or becoming engrossed within a project. A 2010 study with Cardiff University of over 3,500 knitters showed that 81% of respondents said they felt happier during and after knitting, and 54% of the respondents who were clinically depressed said knitting made them feel happy or very happy.
Knitting the Pain Away
The Pain Clinic at the Royal United Hospital in Bath has been running weekly knitting groups since 2006. Pioneered by former NHS physiotherapist Betsan Corkhill, an advocate of therapeutic knitting, she says, “Pain originates in the brain not in muscles and joints. The brain has to pay attention to signals coming up from your body. If you’re lonely or bored or unhappy, you’ll experience more pain than if you’re socially active and occupied and that’s very well accepted.” In her book ‘Knit for Health and Wellness’ she explains how knitting can support not only chronic pain sufferers but anyone suffering from a long term condition or mental health issues.
Does knitting support your mental well-being? We would love to hear your story! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on instagram.
Image credits: Evgenia Chuvardina