This post forms part two of a series about knitting as therapy.
Knitting is becoming ever increasingly popular as a hobby as people realise that not only is it fun, it’s good for you too.
There is a small, but growing, body of evidence that supports the notion that the gentle art of knitting is in fact good for mental health. The findings of the biggest study into the benefits of knitting were published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2013 (article paywalled). The study found that knitting can help create feelings of calmness and assists with stress relief. The research also indicated that people who knit regularly (more than three times per week) are happier than those who don’t knit as regularly.
“Once you start doing it, it’s so rhythmic that it becomes a meditative thing.” – Athena Wallis
You can lose yourself in the moment. This experience has been called flow – those few moments when you’re completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter. It’s a state in which time seems to stop and moving loops of yarn from one needle to the other is the only thing that exists. Knitting has been referred to as ‘the new yoga’ because of this zen-like trance you can slip into.
For those of us who are prone to visits from the black dog or his buddy anxiety bunny, knitting can help in many ways to improve your mood , as it helps the body to release dopamine (the pleasure chemical) and can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Other ways knitting can help manage depression are through: setting realistic goals (eg by the end of the month, I want to be half way through my scarf) and measures of achievement (hey look, I’ve knitted a hat). It also creates a sense of productivity while relaxing, for example it removes the feeling of wasting time while watching TV.
“I keep photos of my singular accomplishments on my cellphone to boost my spirits when needed” – Jane E. Brody
Knitting also reduces experiences of isolation through making friends and social connections. There is always a way to bond with other knitters – talking about projects, favourite yarn and yarn shops and supporting each other through knitalongs. Going to a local ‘Stitch n Bitch’ group can improve wellbeing through the sense of belonging to a community.
Does knitting help you to keep your equilibrium? Or, are you inspired to give it a try to help manage your stress? Let me know in the comments below.
As always, Happy knitting.