Crafting has been around for centuries, and it's no surprise that it has been linked to improved mental health. From knitting to jewelry-making, crafting can be a great way to reduce stress and increase dopamine production. In a survey of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy”.
The repetitive and rhythmic movements that make up the fabric could be the key to relaxation. Dr. Barry Jacobs of Princetown University discovered that animals that perform repetitive movements trigger a release of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with calm and well-being. Whether you like to knit and make jewelry, or just want to learn a new hobby, crafting is not only about doing nice things, but it also improves your mood.
Betsan Corkhill, a knitting therapist, surveyed 3,545 knitters online and found that more than half of those who responded said they were “very happy after knitting”. Betsan believes that the particular fabric, along with other rhythmic crafts such as embroidery and weaving, releases serotonin and dopamine through repetitive hand movements, and induces a sense of calm. An impressive 74% of people reported that knitting lessened their fears and prevented them from reflecting on their eating disorders; and 53% said it provided satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Interestingly, the study also found that people who knitted as part of a group were even happier than single weavers.
The Waldorf School has been incorporating crafts such as knitting and weaving into its curriculum since its creation in 1919.The study found a significant relationship between knitting frequency and respondents' perceived mood and feelings. Interestingly, about 100 years ago, doctors even prescribed tissue to women they described as “anxiety-ridden” because they found it calmed their nerves. So grab your knitting needles and take out your wool stash, because knitting, crocheting and craftsmanship have been linked to reducing stress levels and increasing your body's dopamine production.