Here at mindfulknits, we know that knitting helps us feel good, melt away our stress, and stay more present. But does knitting really have mental health benefits? Is there real research to back up this claim?
You may not know this, but we have a thing for data. We decided to dig into the science and find out 7 ways that knitting can make you mentally healthier and happier.
Knit your way to happiness.
Results of a survey of 3,545 knitters published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy showed a significant relationship between how often people knitted and how good they felt after knitting.
Specifically, knitting more than 3 times a week increased the likelihood that knitting would make someone feel calm and happy. Knitting every day had the best effects on calmness and happiness! People surveyed said the rhythmic and repetitive motion of knitting was to thank for this calming effect.
Interestingly, almost half of the knitters said that their yarn’s texture, and almost a quarter of knitters said that their yarn’s color impacted their mood.
Knit with friends to level up your wellness.
The same survey found that knitting in a group also improved how calm, happy, and excited people felt. Ninety percent of the 3,545 knitters in the survey said that they had made friends through knitting.
In addition, over 70% said it was easier to talk to other knitters. Reasons included having something in common to talk about and having something to do with their hands to overcome shyness.
For knitters with depression, knitting in a group was significantly linked to feeling happier and better about themselves.
Strengthen your thinking power with knitting.
The results of the survey also showed that people who knitted over 3 times a week were more likely to feel that knitting improved their thinking, memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities.
Knitting also helped flex their mathematical, budgeting, and organizational skills through activities such as calculating measurements and buying knitting supplies.
The potential benefits to cognition don’t stop there! A Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences study of 1,321 older adults showed that those who did crafts such as knitting had 34% reduced odds of having mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment can be an early stage for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Knit to keep burnout at bay.
Imagine the stress of caring for patients with cancer. A study from the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing showed that there was a lower level of burnout in oncology nurses after completing a 6-week knitting intervention. Nurses said that learning this new creative skill helped them to de-stress, bring back compassion, and improve bonding among staff.
Get a break from pain with knitting.
The results of a case study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the British Pain Society showed that many knitters with chronic pain said that knitting helped manage their symptoms. The participants said that knitting helped to improve their self-esteem, engage in rhythmic movement, and stimulate their senses.
The participants said that knitting helped them regain a sense of purpose and control. The focus needed to knit helped to distract them, making their pain fade into the background. Some participants even said that reaching for their knitting became their “drug of choice” versus taking additional pain medications.
A study in the Perspectives in Public Health journal showed that people who engage in another yarn craft, crochet, also experienced similar benefits. Over half of the 8,391 people surveyed felt that crochet helped them to forget their pain.
Knit your fears and anxieties away.
People with eating disorders often have anxiety and intrusive thoughts relating to eating, weight, and body image. Researchers gave knitting lessons and supplies to 38 women recovering from eating disorders in a study published in the Eating and Weight Disorders journal. Knitting helped over 70% of the participants distract themselves from their thoughts and feelings related to their eating disorder. Over 70% also said that knitting helped them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Knitting helped to lessen the intensity of their fears, clear their minds, and provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. Every participant in the study felt that knitting positively impacted their recovery. They all also said that they would recommend the practice to other patients with eating disorders.
Knitting for others is a way to give back.
A qualitative study of knitters published in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy demonstrated another one of the mental health benefits of knitting. Interviewees in the study felt that knitting for others helped to sustain their mental health and sense of well-being. Knitting for charity became a large part of the identity of some knitters. The practice fulfilled their need to give back to their community.
The survey study of people who crochet also showed that making something tangible for others made them feel productive. Respondents said that they are able to make customized handmade gifts and contribute to their households through this yarn craft.
Now you don’t have to take our word for it!
There’s proof that knitting can be a great tool in your self-care toolkit. From increasing the size of your social circle to reducing workplace stress, the potential mental health benefits of picking up a knitting habit are endless.