Our brains are pretty amazing. And they can be pretty frightening. We can entertain the hypothetical and replay events in our heads, but this isn’t always a good thing. It can lead to repetitive negative thoughts resulting in a vicious cycle. These thoughts can occur from a traumatic event or everyday challenges. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I am already worrying about tomorrow and I know I am not alone. One common ingredient in all of this is stress.
Right before the holidays hit I was sitting in a room at Unplug Meditation in Santa Monica learning to knit with a couple of friends. Learning to knit and actually knitting do very different things to your brain. Learning to knit was anything but relaxing. I spent a lot of my time confused with a dash of frustration. One of my friends so agitated I wanted to serve her a glass of wine. But after I mastered the basic stitch and in the weeks that followed I was able to feel the calming benefit of knitting. I knitted the whole plane ride back to Chicago yielding scarves for my mom and cousin. Knitting involves using both hands together in a repetitive manner to create something. As your hands move your mind focuses on the creating. This can create a flow state; that place where you are 100% present and time fades away. I always recommend yoga. Yoga is my flow; when I move my body in a specific, yet deliberate way I can achieve flow state. But knitting offers the same benefits. In this CNN article titled, “This is your brain on crafting“, it helped a women cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
Also, the CNN article states that knitting turns on your parasympathetic nervous system. Therefore it takes our body from the “freak out ” to ” the calm, cool, and collective” state of mind. This is HUGE. Most of us struggle to calm down and here is an accessible activity we can all do.
What if the everyone knitted? Less depression? Less anxiety? Less war?
And because I am an OT I have to share this…
In a research study with 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.”
There is a Knitting Behind Bars program that has been wildly successful and inmates report learning patience, empathy and focus. Here is NPR’s article and audio.
Last but not least, knitting helps brain plasticity and communication between your left and right brain. Just like the yoga pose Garudasana/Eagle arms.
What else does knitting do for you? What others ways can we relieve stress, anxiety, and depression?
There’s No Better Time Than Now,