Did you know that knitting benefits can actually affect your wellbeing? In a world where we’re constantly told what NOT to do, what’s bad for our health and what is guaranteed do damage to our well-being, it’s refreshing to find an activity that can actually benefit our mental, emotional and physical health. And it’s not exactly what you expect. We’re talking about knitting of course, and before you develop a detailed mental image of your grandmother sitting in a rocking chair with her yarn and needles, hear this: knitting, at any and every age, is really really good for your health.
It might not seem like there is an obvious connection between crafting in the form of knitting and health benefits, but experts agree that activities such as knitting can improve everything from dexterity to focus and can increase happiness while also decreasing anxiety. As CNN reports, Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist and wife of Craftsy.com CEO John Levisay says “creating—whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography (or) cake decorating—is beneficial to us in a number of important ways.” And if you want further proof, a survey conducted in 2013 “found that 81.5 percent of respondents rated themselves as feeling happier after knitting.”
Think about what you are required to do while you are knitting. First of all, you need to exercise intense control over your hands and fingers and you need to have sharp vision to see what you are doing. You also need to be able to focus on a single task for an extended period of time, and you need to have some sort of creative vision (or the ability to completely let go without any sort of creative plan). Once you think of the detailed tasks involved in the art of knitting, it should come as no surprise that this activity is really, really good for you. Here are a few other ways that knitting is incredibly beneficial for you at any age (and no, it’s not just for your grandmother, knitting is great for EVERYONE).
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It Encourages Creativity
Creativity helps you feel happier, more fulfilled and better equipped to solve problems. Beyond that it can give you a sense of purpose, knowing that you made something from nothing using only your imagination and hard work. And knitting requires a lot of creativity. Aside from the fact that you are actually creating an object one needle loop at a time, you also have to choose colors, materials, designs and you need to have a vision for your work. It’s not easy for a lot of people, but it can improve the way you function in other areas of your life as well, and make you feel satisfied and proud of what you create.
Knitting Helps Work on Your Fine Motor Skills
Knitting engages the mind in several ways—spatial reasoning, planning, attention, visual coordination and more. Stimulating your mind in all of these ways also helps improve your fine motor skills, which can benefit everyone, whether you are young, old, healthy or battling an illness such as Parkinson’s. In fact, knitting is a common activity used in rehabilitation because of its ability to heal and distract patients from their pain. Melissa Raughton, an occupational therapist and outpatient rehab supervisor at the Peterson Ambulatory Care Center, said, “arts and crafts are some of the original forms of occupational therapy.” The rehabilitation center encourages patients to participate at a knitting station, especially people who are recovering from a stroke, hand injury or other disabilities.
It Improves Focus and Attention Span
When you work on a knitting project you need to sit still and focus for a chunk of time, and in our hectic lives it can be hard sometimes to keep our attention on one task. We often get distracted and try to multi-task and do everything for everyone at all times, so having a project that allows you to totally unplug and focus is really good for your mind and your overall happiness. Plus, one of the great knitting benefits is that it can help improve your ability to focus in the future and can keep your brain sharp.
It Gives you a Sense of Calm Similar to Meditation
Studies suggest (and people who knit religiously would agree) that knitting provides a sense of calm similar to that of yoga or meditation. This is because the physical act of knitting is a rhythmic motion, which can help calm the mind and induce a state of Zen. Beyond that, “the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga,” explains Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind/body medicine and author of The Relaxation Response.
Knitting Provides an Escape from the Stress of Your Everyday Life
Between your job, your family, your friends and all the other responsibilities you have in your life, sometimes you need an activity that you do just for you. You need something that brings you joy, calms your mind and becomes a therapeutic release. Knitting is a great way to let go of the stress in your life, to unplug from your commitments, to relax and to ultimately create something beautiful which will increase your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.