Anxious? Stressed? Lonely? Learn to knit. Recent research has found that knitting has psychological and social benefits. People who knit are calmer, happier, and feel better about themselves. Knitting provides distraction from ruminating thoughts and an outlet for creative expression. It keeps your hands busy which decreases opportunities to engage in unhealthy behaviours. It’s relaxing, it’s visual, it’s useful, it’s rewarding, it’s social. What more do you want from a hobby?
1. The rhythmic and repetitive movements used in knitting can be soothing and lead to a relaxed state. Through a simple repeat of two stitches (knit and purl) like the Mistake Rib Scarf by Purl Soho, it can become an active meditation.
Some pattern designs look complicated, but they are just variations of knit and purl stitches. Knitwear designer, Jennifer Weissman describes the This Way and That shawl pattern as being intuitive after the first few rows, “making this a relaxing, beginner-friendly project with eye-catching results.”
Add colours and slip some stitches. Designer, Laura Aylor describes her Milky Way shawl pattern as “an easy knit that will let you focus on your own stargazing.” I agree, it was easy, but the stars can be distracting.
2. Knitting has visual and tactile appeal. Brighten your surroundings with yarns in a rainbow of colours. Soothe your hands by knitting with fine soft yarns comprised of merino, silk or alpaca blends.
3. Knitting allows you to be productive while engaging in passive activities. Binge watch your favourite program while creating something to keep you warm. Linda Marveng’s Tweed Cowl was knit during a Person of Interest marathon. I can’t seem to get enough of crime boss, Carl Elias, but I digress.
5. For those that are introverted, shy or anxious, knitting gives you something to do with your hands while you’re interacting with people. It is a great conversation starter and a low stress way to meet new people. When I knit in public, people will often initiate conversations and say something that makes me smile.
Knitting is a fun, and portable hobby that can help reduce stress and anxiety. It allows you to relax, be productive, challenge yourself, and experience a sense of accomplishment.
Take a step toward a happier life. If you don’t know how to knit, or need a refresher, visit Handknit yarn studio and enrol in a class. That’s where it began for me. Develop a SMART goal to reduce stress and make new friends by connecting with other knitters or crocheters. Connect virtually by joining Ravelry, or join me for knitting and laughter at Body Brave on Mondays from 4:30–6:00 pm.
By Clare Cruickshank, clinical social worker at Body Brave