Believe it or not, yoga and meditation are not the only activities that promote stress-relief and relaxation. Craft activities such as knitting and crochet are equally if not more beneficial to your health and mental wellbeing. The benefits of knitting come from the repetitive action of needlework that induces a relaxed state similar to the one achieved through meditation and yoga. But unlike those activities, knitting also results in tangible and useful products that enhance the knitter’s sense of self-esteem and accomplishment!
The endless list of health benefits associated with knitting include:
The number one benefit of knitting and crocheting is stress relief. The act itself lowers heart rate and blood pressure and reduces harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Thousands of people attest to the stress-relieving effect of knitting. However the rewards of knitting go well beyond replacing stress and anxiety with the satisfaction of creation. Knitting therapy programs exist for an array of issues such as helping smokers quit cigarettes, and helping people cope with health crises such as a cancer diagnosis or serious illness of a family member. Craft programs have even been set up in prisons to bring a calming effect and enhance social skills. Schools have brought the craft in as well to promote math skills because dealing with the complexity of the craft project instructions promotes the brain to do well in math.
Many people have reported knitting as improving flexibility and reducing pain in stiff hands. The more you engage in handiwork with yarn the more dexterous your fingers will be as you age. In addition to relieving arthritis pain in hands, the craft does wonders for sufferers of chronic pain as well. In a study of 60 self-selected people with chronic pain conducted by Betsan Corkhill, a wellness coach in England, results reported that knitting enabled them to redirect their focus from their pain and reduced their awareness of it. She suggested that the brain can process only so much at one time so that activities like knitting helped take up enough of the brain’s attention so that it had less left to acknowledge pain signals.
In a separate study conducted by Corkhill, 54 percent of respondents who identified as having depression reported that knitting made them feel happy or very happy. It is crazy not to acknowledge the scope of the benefits created from this simple craft. The sense of satisfaction from creating something, the activity itself that occupies your time are enough to make even the most depressed people feel happy again!
Slow the Decline in Brain Functiondone
Perhaps the most exciting benefit of knitting is the research that suggests crafts like knitting and crocheting help to ward off decline in brain function and memory loss with age. In a study conducted by Dr. Yonas E. Geda, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a random sample of 1,321 people ages 70 to 89 were interviewed, most of whom were considered cognitively normal. They were asked about the cognitive activities they engaged in at this point in their lives. The study found that those who engaged in crafts like knitting and crocheting had a much less chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss. The researchers speculate that this craft promotes the development of the neural pathways in the brain that help maintain cognitive health.