Mindfulness, Mental Health and Knitting

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Wellness, mental health, meditation - most of us are striving to find a better balance in life, and for some of us that may be quite difficult to achieve.

Work stress, family demands - who has time for knitting?

Several decades of research suggest that you should make time for it. Stress affects your mental health and is a major factor in the development of many chronic diseases. 

Knitting combines a range of characteristics that make it a great tool to de-stress, develop mindfulness and keep mentally active.

So what is it about knitting that makes it so special?

The rhythmic, repetitive motion is a key ingredient in creating a state of deep relaxation.

In that, knitting has similarities to yoga - repeating the same stitch and the same movement over and over again helps to calm your heart rate, slows your breathing and creates a sense of inner quiet. 

Learning to knit can be easier to learn than meditation and mindfulness but has a similar beneficial outcome:

According to Betsan Corkhill, knitting therapist and found of Stitchlinks, "Mindfulness can be a difficult technique to teach, particularly to those who need it the most – the highly stressed, those suffering chronic pain or depression. These conditions make it difficult to concentrate the mind. Knitting is exciting because it opens up the benefits of Mindfulness to everyone."

Betsan describes knitting therapy as "bilateral, rhythmic, psycho-social intervention". The bilateral aspect of knitting (that is, using both hands) require your full concentration, leaving less mental space to focus on negative thoughts or even on pain. The rhythmic aspect of knitting get you into a space of calm and relaxation, which helps to reduce high blood pressure and manage chronic stress. 

Betsan gave an interview with BBC Radio 4 in 2015 in which she outlines why she started using craft as a therapy tool. If you have 15 minutes to spare, have a listen in - it is worth listening to!

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