Does too much screen time have you feeling a little edgy and out of sorts? Why not step away from the technology trap and give yourself an age-old gift: the peace of mind and sense of accomplishment that comes from doing handicrafts.
Benefits of Knitting, Crocheting and Other Handicrafts
Lift mood and increase serotonin levels. In a recent study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of 3,500 people studied reported feeling “happy” after knitting or crocheting, and 50% reported feeling “very happy.” The repetitive action of knitting and crocheting is said to release serotonin in the brain, which is a natural mood-lifter.
Prevent arthritis and tendonitis. According to Carrie and Alton Barron, M.D.s, co-authors of The Creativity Cure: Building Happiness With Your Own Two Hands, and a psychiatrist and orthopedic surgeon, respectively; handiwork is a tool for alleviating anxiety and depression as well as preventing arthritis and tendonitis. Knitting is reported to actually relieve the pain of arthritic fingers, as well as maintain joint flexibility. Many people who have undergone hand surgery use knitting as a form of physical therapy to return strength to the fingers and hands.
Ward off anxiety, depression. Abovementioned author Carrie Barron states, “The rhythmic, mathematical nature of knitting and crocheting keep the mind absorbed in a healthy way, providing an escape from stressful thoughts but allowing for internal reflection.”
Alleviate repetitive thoughts for people who suffer from OCD as well as eating disorders. As Carrie Barron states in the quote above, knitting and crocheting engage the mind in a healthy way, which is calming and promotes greater focus on something productive. This is excellent for people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. According to the Craft Yarn Council, ¾ of anorexic women found knitting to reduce their anxiety and promote feelings of calmness.
Improve self esteem. Completing knitting or crocheting projects offers a sense of accomplishment and personal pride. Creating a gift for someone else that was made with your own two hands can be incredibly satisfying. Imagine as you’re knitting a hat for your son or daughter, the loving feelings that come as you work, and the ways this contributes overall to a peaceful mind and happy heart.
Relieve social anxiety. For shy people who may not feel comfortable speaking in a social situation, knitting or crocheting provides an activity to keep the hands busy and avoid anxious feelings. A handmade project can be a great conversation starter for when you’re out and about – at a park with the kids, for example. For those who would like to meet people but don’t know how, there are many knit and crochet meetup groups which allow you to focus on your projects while at the same time sharing with others.
Improve cognitive function. Knitting and crocheting involve much more than looping yarn on needles. To do a real project requires planning (purchasing all the tools and materials needed); employing mathematical skills (determining yarn gauge, assessing and assembling patterns, counting stitches). It also involves creativity (selecting colors that go well together; deciding what stitches will work best), perseverance and follow-up skills.
A 2011 study of mildly cognitively impaired adults was conducted by Yonas Geda, associate professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and published in the Spring 2011 edition of The Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences. The study cited that mind-engaging activities such as computer use, playing games, crafting, reading books and watching less TV results in a striking 30 to 50 percent decrease in the odds of having mild cognitive impairment.
It’s no wonder that knitting and crocheting have come back in fashion over the last 10 or 20 years. Do you have a favorite NJ-based yarn supply shop or knit/crochet meetup? Share on our Facebook page!