Wellbeing – The Benefits of Knitting
While people knit primarily to produce wonderful scarves, sweaters, socks, and gifts, there are additional benefits to be derived from the practice of this beautiful and useful craft.
Occupational therapists find that knitting can improve or maintain hand dexterity, essential for managing chronic conditions such as arthritis. For those with arthritis, the use of wooden, bamboo, or plastic needles instead of metal needles can help them work longer with more comfort due to the warmth and flexibility of the materials. Fingerless compression gloves can also provide support and warmth to decrease pain while knitting.
Adults and children can benefit from knitting to practice hand-eye coordination, recover from a hand injury, or develop a useful and calming occupational skill. People with a need to fidget find keeping some simple knitting in hand enables them to focus better on conversation or classroom lectures.
One of the mental benefits of knitting is the release of serotonin during creative activity. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that causes feelings of well-being and happiness. The repetitive, rhythmic movements of knitting are akin to meditation, often helping to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Knitting offers a means of bringing the mind into focus. People who struggle with anxiety or attention deficits need help with achieving and/or maintaining mental focus. The skills practiced in forming hundreds of uniformly-sized stitches in a shawl or sweater are transferable to other endeavors that require a calm and disciplined mind, such as caring for children, keeping accounts for a business, or studying a foreign language.
The focus some people gain from martial arts training, religious discipline, or organized sports can also be learned through the practice of the art and craft of knitting. Choose simple projects to promote calm, prevent fidgeting, or practice dexterity. To work on focus and develop sustained focus, consider a more complex project requiring counters or charts. Any knitting activity can be part of your healthy lifestyle, promoting a sound mind and body.