Research Studies and Experts Agree: Knitting Is an Excellent Way to Reduce Stress

by | Feb 26, 2016 | Health Featured

Knitting and crocheting is often associated with images of sweet little old ladies sitting in rocking chairs. However, the hobby is becoming more and more common among the younger crowd. Celebrities, including Ryan Gosling and Julia Roberts, have been outspoken about their love of knitting, and they claim that it is an incredibly relaxing hobby.

Celebrities are not the only ones to be calmed by knitting. When surveyed, 81.5 percent of knitters feel happier after they have been knitting. Other surveys of knitters have found that knitters feel more confident, purposeful, and affirmed after knitting. Many people notice these effects after just a few minutes of knitting, so it is seen as an excellent coping strategy.

It turns out that there may be some scientific background behind everyone’s belief that knitting is calming. According to a popular clinical psychologist, Ann Futterman Collier, knitting and other forms of yarn based crafts are shown to boost good moods and lessen bad moods. Crafts like crocheting, weaving, and knitting are all called Textile Therapy, and they stimulate a sense of calm by working just like meditation.

Psychologists believe textile therapy calms stress and encourages happiness because it helps a person to fully engage in a project. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, “When we are involved in [creativity], you know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself.” When a person is not focused on their own thoughts and emotions, their brain can unconsciously process stressors without actually upsetting the person.

The repetitive tactile actions required for textile therapy also have positive benefits. Occupational therapist, VIctoria Schindler, points out that knitting gives the nervous system an outlet for excess energy, so people do not feel as agitated and frustrated. When stressed, people tend to have a high blood pressure and fast breathing that can lead to health issues. However, when a person is knitting, the repetitive motions encourage slower breathing and a greater feeling of calmness. When people were exposed to a stressor in one study, the people who were knitting were able to react to the stressor without having an inflammatory response.

Because of the calming effects of knitting, more young people are getting involved. The internet has become a valuable source of information and community for knitters. They can share their projects online with a community who can appreciate their work, and many websites offer free patterns and craft ideas for knitting. Instead of just knitting endless socks and scarves, the internet provides knitters with the ability to craft trendy new clothing. The internet also provides an opportunity for knitters to sell their crafts, through online markets such as Etsy or Instagram.

Experts believe that the ability to create something useful while participating in a calming and meditative behavior is a big part of why textile therapy has so many cognitive benefits. People can feel that they are truly creating something beautiful, and some people even use knitting techniques to create interpretive art pieces that are quite meaningful. Knitting is an excellent outlet for creativity through textile therapy.

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