The Benefits of Knitting for Mental Health

Knitting has long been a popular hobby, but recent research has revealed that it can also have a positive effect on mental health. Studies have shown that knitting can help to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as improve self-esteem and provide a sense of accomplishment. It can also be used to help people cope with depression and eating disorders. The repetitive and rhythmic movements of knitting can trigger the release of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with calm and well-being.

In addition, knitting in a group can help to facilitate conversation and improve social connections. Dr. Barry Jacobs of Princeton University conducted a study which found that animals that perform repetitive movements trigger a release of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with calm and well-being. This finding was echoed in an international survey which revealed a strong connection between fabric and feelings of calm and happiness.

In group therapy, experts suggest that knitting can facilitate conversation and improve self-esteem. In a study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, researchers gave lessons and knitting supplies to 38 women recovering from eating disorders. The participants reported that knitting helped to lessen the intensity of their fears, clear their minds, and provide them with a sense of pride and accomplishment. All participants in the study considered that the knitting had a positive impact on their recovery.

They also said they would recommend the practice to other patients with eating disorders.Cammie Larson, an occupational therapist at the Marshfield Clinic, has also seen the benefits of knitting first-hand. She noted that after winning gold in synchronized diving, one patient had woven a bag for his medal to prevent it from being scratched. Corkhill and colleagues reported that the fabric allowed them to redirect their focus, reducing their awareness of pain.The meditative qualities produced through knitting can help people “forget about their mental and physical difficulties for a certain amount of time on a day-to-day basis” according to Buckridge, who has nursing experience in family medicine and pediatrics and has been an avid knitter for eight years. Like breathing exercises and mindful meditation, which also use repetition for calming effects, the mind and body focus on the present moment and can eliminate judgment from oneself, as knitting becomes the main focus.For knitters with depression, group knitting was significantly related to feeling happier and better about themselves.

The same survey found that knitting in a group also improved people's calm, happiness, and excitement.The irony is that knitting itself is addictive, but the key is to change a truly self-destructive addiction to the relatively tame addiction of knitting. Knitting can be used as an effective tool for managing stress and anxiety, improving self-esteem, and providing a sense of accomplishment.

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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