I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I finished knitting my Yogini Bolero while Terry was in the hospital. It was incredibly stressful, logisticaly and emotionally, and I found solace in the repetitive nature of knitting. Instead of just sitting in the waiting area at the emergency room twiddling my thumbs or nervously interrogating nurses, doctors or janitors (as I saw others doing), I had my emergency knitting ready to go. My fingers flew and in the end, I have a quite useful product that cost me financially 25% of what they cost new at the store.
When I heard the Yarn Harlot in Vero Beach, she talked about research at Harvard showing that repetitive visual-spatial action helped people deal with stress and trauma. However, they concluded that it wasn’t practical to keep “emergency knitting projects” handy. Well, it works for me!
I just found another site called Knit on the Net where a fellow knitter, Betsan Corkhill, is promoting the therapeutic benefits of knitting.
Her site says, “It’s already known and accepted within the medical profession that occupied people feel less pain and depression, so that’s a good start. However, the large amount of anecdotal evidence suggests that knitting has much more to offer. It isn’t simply about keeping people occupied with an activity they enjoy. It’s not just ‘old fashioned’ occupational therapy either. There’s a lot more to knitting than initially meets the eye!
“The rhythmic repetitive movements of knitting are important – quite how, we’re not absolutely certain of yet, but we have our theories. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that they 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. It can also help those who are fit and healthy to combat stress and to manage life’s downs. It helps you to put into perspective any traumatic issues that would normally dominate your waking thoughts helping you to find a stable balance between problematic events and feelings and more positive, pleasant sensations within the current moment. It’s a state of mind where you’re not mulling over the past or fretting about the future.”
She goes on, “The rhythm of these movements has a calming effect which is already being used successfully to manage disruptive behaviour and ADHD in children. Many who have written to me say they use their knitting to manage anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and conditions such as asthma, where calmness is important. Of course the portability of knitting means you can carry your calming remedy around and use it when and wherever you need. This portability makes knitting, along with some needlework projects, unique in the craft world.
The automaticity of knitting is important, too. It occupies some areas of your brain, whilst freeing up others. Many find that this enables them to ‘zone out’ to become ‘mindless’. This gives your mind a mini break from any problems, enabling you to escape into the sanctuary of a quiet mind. This brings down stress levels and breaks into negative or ruminating downward thought cycles.”
Works for me!