I have previously mentioned my 3 R's: repetition, regulation and relaxation (although I think I mentioned soothing), but didn't give a lot more info about what I meant.....so here it is!
Researchers are confirming what we with hook and needles have known for aeons, crochet and/or knitting is therapeutic, calming and good for your health!!!
In 2007, Harvard Medical School published a paper that said knitting reduced the heart rate therefore reducing anxiety and creating what it calls an enhanced rate of calm.
A recent survey by Pippa Burns and Rosemary Van Der Meer from the University of Wollongong Australia indicated that crocheting can positively affect your well-being. Reports regarding the survey indicate:
So the local and international research confirms it, knitting and crochet are good for us....but why?
There are many reasons and those reasons can be different for each one of us.
Some of us, for various reasons, don't have the ability to self-soothe, or self-regulate and can have trouble getting to a level of calm on our own (or can't maintain it) and some of us don't have access to someone else to help us with regulating.
So how does crocheting and knitting help?
We all know that the acting of creating is sometimes more important than the end result, (if it weren't we would just buy the finished product)!
Crocheting and knitting entail multi sensory stimulation: auditory, tactile and kinaesthetic whilst engaging left and right hemispheres and calming down the amygdala and limbic system.
In other words...
crocheting and knitting provide sound, touch and movement that uses both sides of the brain (creative/artistic vs logical/mathematical) and calm down the part of the brain (mid brain) that is responsible for emotional responses.
Crocheting and Knitting also involve repetitive actions such as completing the stitches themselves and the associated counting which can be effective in increasing focus and helping us be 'in the moment' or mindful - focussing on one thing, being effective and being aware of the experience, our thoughts, the movement and sensation.
(picture from www.socialworker.com Self Care A-Z by Erlene Grise Owens)
Self-regulating breathing is often used as a relaxation technique for people who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and again provides repetition and rhythm. You know when someone says "just breathe" or "take a deep breath" when you are feeling overwhelmed? This is similar, it is deliberate breathing with a clear rhythm and can be timed and counted alongside our knitting/crocheting.
We have all been in that crochet/knitting induced semi-trancelike state when we are counting, yarn over, stitch, breathe.....repeat, counting, yarn over, stitch, breathe.......repeat, counting, yarn over, stitch, breathe.......repeat. We are often practicing mindfulness and self-regulating breathing without realising we are doing it!!!
In each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness (www.mindframe-media.info).
There is evidence (quantitative, qualitative and anecdotal) to support the use of creative arts, and in particular crochet and knitting, as therapeutic interventions. I know it works for me and helps me to relax and self-regulate and I would love to hear how it works for you.