Is knitting a form of therapy?

Within the textile arts, fabric has not only been used as occupational therapy, but also to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, while helping us preserve cognitive and brain function and physical dexterity in old age. One of the most notable uses of tissue is in Occupational Therapy, or “OT” for short. Recent research shows what many weavers already know in their hearts, fabric has a measurable effect in calming anxiety and relieving stress. An international survey revealed a strong connection between fabric and feelings of calm and happiness.

In addition to the activity itself, many weavers find benefits in the social nature of the fabric, whether they belong to a local fabric group or an online community. In a clinical setting, a study of a group of people who have eating disorders showed that tissue had a significant effect on reducing anxiety and calming obsessive thoughts or worries. Anecdotal evidence clearly suggests that knitting can induce a form of meditation very similar to mindfulness. Recent research has shown that Mindfulness can be very effective in treating depression and chronic pain.

The wonderful thing about knitting is that it combines mindfulness with meaninglessness perfectly. You have to concentrate, of course, but you can easily get lost in regular movements and rhythmic counting. It's a relaxing type of self-hypnosis. Here are some of the benefits of knitting as a self-care.

Although childhood was full of clay pots and finger paint, these types of creative activities are almost non-existent in “adulthood”. Unless you're an expert artist, practicing a trade for fun is almost ridiculous and a waste of time, except when it comes to knitting. Because you can't really be “bad at knitting”, or you're doing it, or you're not. In a world of intangible concepts, seeing something you're working on grow and improve is particularly satisfying.

Each item you knit prepares you to be cleaner, faster and more ambitious with the next. You can literally see the visual improvement. And on top of that, knitting offers an attainable end goal. Knitting an item will reward you with that item.

When you feel like a useless waste of the earth's resources, that's useful. But combine this feeling with another unpleasant feeling, the panic of a wasted life and you've gotten yourself into real trouble. It's easy and not at all unpleasant to do, even in the midst of wishing for everything to go away. And in terms of wasting what precious time do we have on Earth? Well, you may have rewatched an entire season of America's Next Top Model while you were crying, but if you've also knitted half an inch out of a pair of socks, then technically you've been productive as well.

When you knit, you work independently, producing something of your own. And there's something satisfying about that. Do you want a navy blue sweater with a baby pink collar? You can have it, designed exactly to your specifications. If something you want doesn't exist, create it.

You'll feel creative and independent. It's a knitting philosophy that really should be applied more often in the world. For those whose mental health problems manifest in fear of being around other people, knitting is a brilliant crutch, an almost literal “safety blanket”. Not only does it give you something to do with your hands that isn't rolling and smoking cigarettes repeatedly (who, me?) but it can also help generate comfortable and natural conversations.

At times when all brain function is busy with “don't cry, don't panic,” that's valuable. If you give someone a gift, they will be your friend for life. And you want to know a secret? Knitting is not that difficult. In fact, I'd say it has one of the most efficient effort to praise ratios out there.

For times when your self-esteem is non-existent and everything you do seems rubbish, any compliment can be a savior. Scientific research and findings that support therapeutic tissue are fascinating and exciting. We've already mentioned that knitting in a social setting, whether in real life or online, offers great mental health benefits, but another element is that knitting is often an opportunity to give back, which can be a big boost to your mental health. As we continue with these tissue lessons, I have found ways to make use of tissue as occupational therapy.

This could explain why weavers have reported improved mood, a sense of calm, and lower levels of pain. I've reserved my fabric for cooler weather activities, not that it means much, I'm in Southern California lol. It's good to find a blog from time to time that isn't the same unwanted rehash information. Research suggests that rhythmic and repetitive knitting movements may improve the release of serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood, learning and sleep.

There seem to be many different groups for weavers suffering from depression, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, chronic illness and colitis, and many other physical and mental health problems. Knitting is my “going to winter”, but now, after reading everyone's thoughts, I'm considering it as an important, year-round tool to help me deal with escaping thoughts. A study published by the British Journal of Occupational Therapy reports that weavers who knit frequently are calm, happy and experience superior cognitive functioning. There are many ways to weave for charity, and many studies show that giving back to the community supports mental health and can help with feelings of depression and loneliness.

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Jane MacDonald
Jane MacDonald

I am of the author and owner of I Love Knitting. I first learned to knit when I was around five years old, and stop doing it when I hit my teens! I than picked it back up when I had my first child, and have since taught all three of my children to knit.

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