When it comes to coping skills, there are things which are considered healthy or unhealthy. Engaging in artistic expression, crafts and other forms of creation are certainly considered healthy when facing depression, anxiety or any other troubling disturbance in mental and emotional wellness. What science is now discovering is that the use of these techniques is helpful for anyone at any time—even when we aren’t in the midst of emotional turmoil or stress. And activities such as knitting can even provide long-term health benefits!
According to The Washington Post, a survey conducted in 2013 showed how 81.5 percent of those who responded said they felt happier and healthier after knitting. But, we all know that we feel better momentarily when doing our preferred relaxation or artistic activities. What do these pastimes do for us in the long run?
One study revealed quite an impact on seniors who practiced knitting, quilting, playing games, computer activities and reading books regularly. It was discovered that 30 to 50 percent of participants were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, a first step to dementia. This response was also seen in animal testing and researchers believe it is because these activities all activate multiple areas of the brain—including those responsible for planning, spatial navigation, visual processing, interpreting meaning and precision of movement.
In another study, women hospitalized for anorexia were given a survey after knitting for 20 minutes to an hour per day. 74 percent reported having less fear or preoccupation with their disorder and others noted feeling pride and a sense of accomplishment. Project Knitwell works with caregivers of all kinds and notes how knitting can be an especially powerful relief for families of premature infants who cannot yet hold their babies.
“Textile therapy” is being studied more and more as we further our understanding of the brain and its functions. The reward center of the brain, responsible for reinforcement of activities ranging from eating, exercise, sex and taking recreational drugs, may play a role in the enjoyment of knitting and other hands-on crafts.
Not only is knitting a powerful tool for managing daily stressors and life’s more significant hardships, it can serve as a preventative measure against future health conditions. Compared to other activities, it’s also affordable for many people and just about anybody can learn. To get started with learning how to knit, here are some resources and fun patterns. It’s time knitting becomes less of an aged stereotype and more of a daily health practice!