Knitting as therapy – Why knitting is good for your health
Knitting as therapy – Why knitting is good for your health
“The hidden power of the wrists influences the brain. It promotes well-being on the one hand and health on the other. When knitting, the mind reaches its natural state. You switch off, forget about stress and prevent diseases. Head and body are in harmony with each other.”
In her nearly 200-page book, Betsan Corkhill emphasizes the meditative aspects of Knitting, which presumably stem from its bilateral, rhythmic, and automatic movements.
The English pain therapist and physiotherapist has been taking her patients to the needle for several years and reports a whole bundle of healing effects, such as pain relief and a boost in self-esteem.
One depressed woman wrote to the therapist, “Knitting is a safe place for me. It helps me to get better.”
In everyday life, we often look for some peace and quiet and a distraction from the daily stress. However, we rarely get this when we stare at our cell phones, drink one glass of wine after another in the bar next door, or let ourselves be distracted by the often boring TV program.
What helps is knitting – at least if you believe a study by Dr. Herbert Bensons from Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School has found that knitting calms and relieves stress. Much like praying, doing yoga or meditating, knitting allows the mind to wander.
The mixture of rhythmic movements, monotonous sequences and the clattering of needles has an effect comparable to that of a mantra.
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Knitting uses both sides of the brain. One-half of the brain has to control and coordinate the movements of the hands. At the same time, the other half of the brain is called upon in terms of concentration, logical thinking and imagination.
A study on knitting and memory was conducted at Cardiff University. It showed that existing knowledge is recalled better when knitting is performed at the same time.
In 2012, brain researcher Yonas Gedas at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester published a study stating that people who engage in manual labor such as knitting have fewer problems with their memory.
The risk of pathological memory loss, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, is said to be reduced by as much as 40 percent when people engage in manual activities. Researchers suggest that knitting may promote the development of neural pathways in the brain, helping to maintain cognitive health.
The rhythmic hand movement on both sides also helps to better connect the two hemispheres of the brain. Long-term memory training that’s also fun.
Knitting lowers blood pressure and pulse. In addition, knitting relaxes and helps to leave behind the stress and hecticness of everyday life. Knitting allows you to switch off. This, in turn, has a beneficial effect if you have problems falling asleep and staying asleep.
The interaction of both hands and the movements of the fingers are excellent training for the hand and finger muscles and thus also for fine motor skills. Knitting can even be an ideal therapy for inflammatory diseases of the joints – such as rheumatism or nerve damage.
When knitting, individual pieces are made, and each piece is created only once. At the same time, knitting allows you to implement your own ideas.
It sometimes takes quite a long time until a larger knitting work is finished. Sometimes it only takes a few hours, but sometimes you can spend weeks working on a knitted piece.
However, especially larger and more elaborate knitting pieces are ideal training for stamina, and that increases your own patience.
Although knitting itself consists of quite monotonous movements, one must always concentrate, especially with elaborate patterns.
Therefore, knitting is a very good exercise for the ability to concentrate.
Whether you’re reaching for a cigarette in a bored or stressed moment, drinking a glass of wine, or eating chocolate, knitting can be a wonderful distraction.
Your hands are so busy that you don’t have a chance to light a cigarette, and it keeps your brain so busy that you won’t even think about what it would be like to finish that bar of chocolate you started.
One terrific thing about knitting is the visual feedback. Each stitch is a step towards the completion of a row and thus the entire project.
A successful self-made piece rightly makes you happy and proud. At the same time, self-confidence also grows when a goal is reached, and a task is successfully mastered.
In the USA, doctors repeatedly advise seriously ill patients to reach for wool and knitting needles. Knitting distracts, occupies and thus helps to get through the difficult time.
Once a piece of knitting is finished, the brain also releases lots of happy hormones as a reward. However, psychological studies have not only found that people who devote themselves to needlework are happier.
Knitting also helps people to set themselves tasks, to set clear goals and to pursue these goals consistently.
Handicrafts like knitting, painting and pottery are said to help treat and prevent depression, stress, anxious feelings and even pain patients.
American doctors even go so far as to recommend knitting to their patients before prescribing antidepressants. And some studies claim a creative hobby, like knitting, keeps us young.
Engaging in a craft like knitting or pottery prevents negative feelings from taking up space in your mind. You’re simply distracted and focused on your task. This causes the alarm response of the nervous system, immobilized and emotions regulated.
Through the recurring sequence and the repetition of the individual steps, the whole thing even gets something meditative.
Which tinkering hobby one selects is thereby beside the point – the only criterion is that it makes fun.
The positive effect can also be increased if you join a “craft group.” You are then not only focused on your creative task but also share your work with others.
You can talk, make new friends and learn new techniques. It’s all good for your psyche.
According to Betsan Corkhill, physiotherapist and founder of the Stitchlinks platform, knitting can even relieve physical pain. Among other things, the portal also offers therapeutic knitting methods.
A study conducted with 60 pain patients was able to prove that the regular operation of the needle led to noticeable pain relief in the subjects.
This is probably due to the fact that the test persons no longer focused on their complaints but concentrated entirely on knitting, as a result of which they no longer registered any pain signals over a longer period of time.
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