October 13th is National I Love Yarn Day, so it seemed only fitting to write a blog post about the health benefits of yarn. There are almost more benefits than I can list. And a surprising number of studies have been done about the effect of yarn crafting.
Here is the “short” list of benefits in no particular order;
This is the most researched benefit of yarn crafting, a quick internet search can lead you to several studies. Crocheting or Knitting can release serotonin and dopamine, which act as natural anti-depressants. CNN recently reported about one such study “of more than 3,500 knitters. The report published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, showed that 81% of respondents with depression reported “feeling happy after knitting.”
I can personally attest to this particular benefit of crocheting. I suffered with postpartum depression after my 2 year old was born. We lived two states away from family, I had left my job to have her, and my husband worked long night shifts at the hospital. I felt isolated and depressed at suddenly being alone and caring for a baby. So I started crocheting a blanket for a former coworker that was having a baby and realized that the more I worked on it the better I felt. By the time my 1 year old came along I was a dedicated crafter and had turned it into a business, I firmly believe this is why depression didn’t hit me quite so hard the second time around.
Crocheting and knitting keeps your hands busy and mind focused, this helps prevent you from thinking about whatever was causing you to feel anxious about in the first place. The repetitive counting of stitches or rows has been shown to serve as an outlet for people with anxiety associated with OCD. The Craft Yarn Council reports on a study of women with anorexia that 75% of those women found yarn crafts to be relaxing and anxiety-reducing.
Builds Self Esteem
Building new skills can help you feel more productive and can build your self-esteem. Yarn crafting can provide a useful way to give to others and can give the crafter a boost in confidence when they see their creation being used and loved by another person. Vizualizing a project from start to finish can help someone see problems in a new way and they may be able to see themselves solving a problem that previously felt impossible.
The best part of having a crafting business is seeing the items I have worked so hard on being used and loved. Both of my kiddos have blankets i made for them while i was impatiently waiting for them to arrive, they can’s sleep without them, and knowing this makes my heart melt a little every bedtime and nap time.
Reduces or Postpones Dementia
Knitting has been linked with postponing age-related memory loss in several studies. Yonas Geda MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, completed a study that showed knitting as being neuroproductive and reduced dementia by as much as 50%. Yarn crafting relies on muscle memory and can help sooth people who are expereincing memory loss and give them a touchstone with which to recover some of their memories.
Helps Work Through Insomnia
By focusing on a soft, quiet, soothing, easy, and repetitive project you can wind down before bed.
Reduces Irritability and Restlessness
Crocheting can help you work through cabin fever or through the innactivity of recovery from a health issue. This sort of a positive outlet for frusterated or nervous energy can help preserve relationships and keep your mood balanced.
An Outlet For Prayer
Many crafters create Prayer Shawls and other garments by meditaing and focusing positive energy into the item they are making. They then gift the item to someone in need or to a charity. This type of prayer process can be really helpful for those that normally would be unable to sit calmly and pray or meditate.
Meditation has been shown to lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When you are crocheting or knitting you can easily fall into the same meditative state because of the intense focus required.
Yarn based communities both in person and online can help combat lonlieness and isolation. The Craft Yarn Counil reports that one third of women between 25 and 35 knit or crochet, and the percentage of yarn crafters increase as the age bracket increases. This massive number of crafters can make it much easier to build a yarn based community and make yarn friends.
On Facebook alone I am a member of 6 crochet based groups and 3 yarn and fiber groups. This feeling of community can help combat all sorts of issues and as a stay-at-home mom it gives me the valuable adult interactions that I would otherwise not have (you can only survive so long on converations with a 2 year old….).
It also helps me feel connected to my family, I have several family members that crochet and talk to each other regularly about it. I learned from my mom, who learned from her grandmother… this connects me to my ancestors in a tangible way. I have several quilts, afghans, and pieces of clothing that were created by people I have lost. They will become part of the treasures I will pass down to my children someday. My daughter is already wanting to learn to crochet and this connects her to people she never had the opportunity to meet.
Yarn crafting can be done as a distraction from grief, which can help some people learn how to process it better. Its something that can be done a little at a time with minimal energy and money. There are several studies that show how certain colors and textures can effect your mood, which can also help you work through your grief.
I know several crafters who made an item in memory of a loved one, or have completed the projects that the loved one started before passing away. This helps them in their grieving process, and creates a useful item that they can remember the person by or pass on to loved ones.
Stress is one of the leading health issues, and as mentioned in a few other places yarn crafting can help relieve several issues that can cause stress. Reducing stress can help reduce diseases and improve your quality of life.
I suffer from debilitating migraines, some of which are caused by stress. Crocheting has helped me to keep my stress levels down and has decreased the total number of migraines that I have each month.
Refines Motor Skills
Knitting and Crocheting can help with fine motor skills in your fingers and hands. Some physical therapists have been utilizing it as a form of therapy in injured or elderly patients. This can help you finger and hands feeling good as you age.
I suffer from a compulsion to snack… all the time, partially becuase I have a unique relationship with my digestive system and partially because I have no self control… but its awefully hard to snack while crocheting. Once you get in a stitching groove you don’t want to ruin it by stopping to eat.
Feeling Of Control
Crocheting can help you feel in control during a stressful situation. If there is something happening that you have no control over, start a project. You can control the pattern, yarn type, color, tools you use, and the speed you create it at.
Real-World Applications For Kids
Yarn crafting requires math, you have to count and do some simple multiplication. This is a great way to help kids practice those skills, and show them a real world application for things they are learning in school. It also gives kids practice in following exact instructions and focusing on the task at hand.
Tell me about a benefit you have experienced from yarn crafting!
What fun yarn memories and connections do you have?
Think of a benefit I didn’t cover? Let me know!