A Healthy Effect Of Knitting: Stress Relief
I learned how to knit during a very stressful time of my life — when my daughter was born two-and-a-half months earlier than expected. She’s doing great now, but those first few weeks were full of all sorts of stress that I really wasn’t prepared for. Inspired by some preemie hats our family received when my daughter was in the hospital, I asked my mother-in-law to teach me how to knit so I could make some preemie hats, too. I didn’t know it at the time but making those hats probably did more good for me than they did for my daughter.
The symptoms of stress vary from person to person. According to WebMD, they include everything from “becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody” to “chest pain and rapid heartbeat” to “constantly worrying” and a myriad of other maladies. Too much stress can cause or contribute to serious health problems.
The good news is that we have a powerful ally in the battle to manage stress: knitting! Really, most any kind of crafting can be used to help combat stress, but knitting has several interesting aspects going for it. One aspect of knitting that helps reduce stress is the meditative behavior that knitting encourages. The repetitive and rhythmic motions of creating stitches helps develop a calming atmosphere in the knitter’s mind, allowing stressful thoughts to melt away, if only for a few moments. Another aspect of knitting that helps with stress reduction is the fact that knitting can be a distraction. When you’re concentrating on memorizing a pattern repeat, making sure your tension is even, or counting the number of stitches you have on your needles, you tend to push troublesome thoughts from your mind and your stress levels are reduced. Finally, we get the benefits of stress reduction even when we’re not knitting. Once you complete a project, you continue to feel good about it when you see the finished object. Five years later, when I pick up that first preemie hat I knitted, I think about the tiny head that it once fit on. It helps me think back to the time when my daughter was in the hospital and remember not a time full of stress, but a time full of love.
Next time you’ve had a tough day at the office or your family is at each other’s throats, or whatever you experience that raises your stress level, try picking up your needles and yarn and just getting lost in the knitting for a few minutes. It won’t make the problem go away, but it might make you better equipped to deal with it.
Keep on knitting for the ones you love!
- Knitting Daddy Greg