These Knitting Benefits Will Improve Your Health and Well-being
I think it’s because I’m a mom. My whole life is all about others, giving, serving, etc. It feels wrong to focus on myself! I just feel uncomfortable about the term “self-care”. I don’t know, maybe we just need to call it something else.
As I’ve read more about self-care, I’ve learned it’s NOT about selfishly neglecting your family to pursue “me-time”. Self-care, truly, is about taking care of your basic needs. Things like hygiene, eating well, fitness, mental health; the things we need to live! No need for mom guilt…This is exactly where we need to focus to become better moms!
You know, like putting on your oxygen mask before trying to help others? You’re no good to anyone if you don’t have oxygen!
Take a Deep Breath
Practicing a healthy level of self-care is the exact opposite of “survival mode” in motherhood. You know, skipping showers and meals, exhaustion, stress, anxiety…all the things typically associated with moms with little kids. It leaves you feeling like your spinning your wheels, endlessly cleaning, cooking, caring with nothing or little to show for all your hard work. It’s easy to feel defeated, unimportant, purposeless. No one wants to stay in survival mode…but how do we break free?
We’ve got to take care of ourselves! The weight of responsibility is crushing at times as a mom. I mean, we have to keep all these little people ALIVE for one thing. If you’re not strengthening yourself mentally and physically the pressure can lead to depression, anxiety, even physical issues like heart problems, hormonal imbalances, and others! Let’s stop settling for being a mess, OK?!
What’s the Solution?!
I had enough of survival mode a few months ago and became determined to find SOMETHING that would help me feel like ME again. Something to help me de-stress, distract me from how exhausted I was, help me refocus on the positives in my life, and serve as a creative outlet.
Would it surprise you if I told you knitting can help you keep your sanity, your mental clarity, reduce your stress and elevate your mood? Knitting (and other crafts like crocheting and embroidery) is an excellent therapy for your mental, physical, and cognitive well-being!
In fact, the fiber arts have so many benefits, it’s hard for me to get all of them without missing any! (for more info follow the links in the sources section)
1. Reduce Stress and Increase Relaxation
Engaging in an activity that requires mental concentration is a great way to distract from stress. With your hands occupied it is easier to process thoughts (like the zillion things on your to-do list) and shift from your mind being distracted by all the negatives, to being really present, and even move forward to more future-focused thinking.
In a study, done by the Craft Yarn Council,
80% of knitters say that the skill helps them reduce stress, and 94% say that it helps them to relax.Craft Yarn Council
Don’t discount this point. Reducing your stress and finding time to relax as a mom is so necessary. Whether you start the day with knitting to get your mood in the right place, or you look forward to time set aside in the evening to wind down…making this a priority will be such a help in the person your family gets to interact with. Less stress means a more patient, calmer mom!
Personally, I find my knitting time to be an excellent facilitator of my prayer time. Because it is so relaxing and calming my mind can quiet down enough for me to focus on self-reflection, thankfulness, praise, and remembering others in my prayers. My thoughts seem to flow more smoothly while I knit, more like a conversation. Many knitters find themselves meditating during knitting without even realizing it…which is connected to why its so relaxing.
2. Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Not only can knitting make you feel better emotionally, it is also good for you physically. It’s no secret that stress can make a huge negative impact on your health, but how wonderful that knitting and other fiber arts can have a direct impact on your blood pressure.
In an collection of studies organized by Knit for Peace they found that
“knitting induces the relaxation response and lowers the heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute. Blood pressure drops when knitting.”Knit for Peace
By reversing your body’s stress response your breathing relaxes, your heartrate slows, and your blood pressure is reduced. It’s a similar response to what happens in yoga. Therefore knitting=yoga…at least that how I see it!
3. Cognitive Function
Pregnancy brain running into the toddler years anyone? I’ve lost so many brain cells at this point, I think twice when someone asks me for my birth-date! If you could use some help in this area, knitting saves the day again.
You’ve probably heard that exercising your brain helps you maintain cognitive ability. Knitting is especially helpful with this because of how much of your brain is engaged in order to use both hands, complex fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, repeating patterns combined with the skilled movement of the needles. It’s a brain workout for sure! The cool thing is the science is backing up what seems to be a pretty natural conclusion.
Stitchlinks and Cardiff University note that
“Knitting is also considered to be good for memory, helps people to think things through more clearly, organise thoughts and improve concentration. It also encourages people to develop new skills in other crafts and transferable skills such as problem-solving and analysis; organisation and time-management.”Stitchlinks
in their summary of their survey of 3,545 knitters worldwide. And,
“Making things with our hands activates different brain circuits to, say, office work. Two-handed movements across the midline of our bodies is recognised as using a lot of brain capacity, leaving less room for other issues”
according to Knit for Peace.
How exciting that knitting is able to exercise our brains! Some studies even link knitting and similar activities to slowing the onset of dementia and other cognitive impairments that come with age! Start knitting now and you’ll have the skills to keep exercising your mind through old age. Knitting is an amazing craft because it can be done even when you’re extremely old and after eye-sight fails. My knitting is an investment for my future!
4. Improves Sleep and Insomnia
Knitting also helps you to process thoughts through active meditation; keeping your hands moving in an activity that’s rhythmic and requires skill. It can help you calm all those racing thoughts keeping you up at night. In the study done by “Knit for Peace” they mention
“knitting’s potential to promote well-being through repetitive activity, which can create “a space for contemplation” and induce “an enhanced state of calm”. Knitting allows for the passive release of stray thoughts. “The rhythmic and repetitive quality of the stitching, along with the needles clicking, resembles a calming mantra.” (Emphasis mine)Knit for Peace
I have personally experienced this as I knit. The stream of my to-do list, my worries, and all my creative ideas sort of slow do to match the rhythmic clicking of the needles and my thoughts become clearer.
Knitting sometimes provides an excellent brainstorming time. Other times my bedtime knitting helps me organize my thoughts as I review that day and plan the next. This makes it much easier to fall asleep.
I think of it like closing all the tabs on your browser before you shut down your computer. We mamas always have too many tabs open!
5. Sense of Accomplishment and Capability
Knitting is an excellent motivator and encourager!
Mom guilt? Self-doubt? I know it’s easy to go there! So, this is one of the benefits of knitting that really resonates with me.
As a stay at home mom its easy to feel like the daily, mundane things you do are unimportant. Or that nothing you do is making a difference, at least not one that you can see. Of course, we know taking care of our family, raising our kids, creating a peaceful home ARE important.
But we rarely see the impact because its mostly a long-term investment, right? Self-doubt sneaks up on you. Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Can’t just ONE thing go right today?
Knitting gives you immediate feedback. You have something in your hands to feel proud of when you’re done. Especially on a day when NOTHING goes right and it feels like you can’t get this mom (or just being human) thing figured out…you can knit a few rows and let the negative thoughts fade into your knit one, purl one mantra until you’re holding a brand new something that you MADE. It just feels GOOD, right?
Disclaimer: Don’t read too much into this. I’m not saying that you should let knitting DEFINE your self-worth. But I think its important to have a few small things in our life in which we can succeed and grow. When feelings of failure threaten to overtake us, small successes can make a huge difference in how we perceive ourselves…even giving motivation and encouragement to try again in other areas, or to try new things. (Perhaps this is a huge part of why knitting and crochet are also healing for depression and anxiety!)
6. Social Connection
Continuing from the last point. We can take that piece we just made and share it with others, connecting us to the outside world beyond our 4 walls of responsibility and routine. Whether it’s donating our items, clothing our family, decorating our homes, teaching others, or even selling our creations. We can feel a sense of contribution and participation in the world with the things we make!
Think of how this holds true for the elderly, especially, who commonly live in isolation. Or, someone struggling with depression or anxiety that feels alone and unable to reach outside of herself. This is such a powerful idea that creating something handmade can connect you to other people. This can create a powerful shift in your thinking from inward and negative, to outward and positive.
From the studies I’ve read (see sources below), there are so many stories of women who were able to use knitting to begin thinking positively about and start looking forward to the future!
This was mainly connected to feeling like they had something to contribute, which motivated them and gave them joy. Even if our circumstances are not as extreme, anyone can benefit from the powerful uplift of feeling connected to something outside of yourself!
Not only does knitting provide an emotional sense of community, there’s also a physical community to be a part of.
Did you know that many local yarn stores host free knitting clubs or groups where you can just go and hang out and knit with other crafters?
Did you know there are many online forums, like Facebook groups (join the Wooly Simple FB group here) and Ravelry groups where you can meet other knitters and share in your craft?
I didn’t until recently. For those that are intimidated by the idea of making new friends, it’s a lot easier to start a conversation with strangers armed with your knitting bag, which fuels the conversation!
7. Model Values to Our Kids
Knitting is not only beneficial to us personally, those benefits extend to those around us, especially those closest to us; our kids.
Prioritizing time for our creative hobbies can send a powerful message to our children. I have heard it said that kids follow what you do, not what you say. If they see you reading books, they will want to read books. If they see you pursuing learning new skills, they will value it also!
Don’t let yourself be tempted to think that taking time to be creative is taking AWAY from your kids.
In fact, I find the opposite to be true!
When we make time to be creative and work at our craft our kids are observing:
- Sense of Pride and Satisfaction from Creating Something Yourself
- The Value of Hard Work
- Practice Makes Progress
- The Joy of Giving & Thinking of Others
- How to Try Again When you Make Mistakes
- Art Appreciation
- A Healthy Coping Mechanism for Stress
Pursuing our creative hobbies is inspiring to our kids! They will want to pursue similar things or mimic your positive attitude and creativity.
Beyond just “the arts” this is an important lesson for lifelong learning. When our kids see that learning is FUN, that it’s a way to relax, to process emotions, to connect with others…they will be more likely to develop healthy attitudes toward those things.
You can use your creative hobby to:
- Actively teach your kids that creative activities are a solution for big emotions like worry, sadness, or anxiety.
- Help them create a bedtime routine around a calming hobby.
- Teach them to volunteer and give in the community by working on a charity project together.
There are so many ways that making your creative hobby a priority can enrich the lives of your WHOLE family.
I hope this article has helped you see how valuable your knitting, crochet, or other craft hobby can be. From physical and mental health, social connection, personal satisfaction and motivation, and even how you engage your kids. Knitting and all the fiber arts are such a valuable activity.
If you’re a beginner or if you haven’t started learning, you can download the free “Learn to Knit Checklist” to help you as you get started:
I’d Love To Hear From You:
Knowing it’s value, how will you purpose to make your knitting, crochet, or other creative hobby a priority?
Which area are you hoping knitting can help you the most? Or has it already?
Comment below to share!
If you’d like to learn more about this topic and the other benefits knitting has to offer I encourage you to follow the links to the studies I used as resources for this post.
You may also enjoy: 10 Free Beginner Knitting Patterns