I really enjoy crocheting. It helps me not only express my creativity, but it is calming and helps me stay centered. I know when I suffered the loss of loved ones a few years ago, crochet was one of the things that kept me going. I could lose myself in the patterns and stitches and put my mind in neutral. The world would slip away for a few hours and when I put my project down, I felt refreshed and renewed.
Several studies have connected crochet and knit with many health benefits. Crochet can help alleviate stress, lessen anxiety and depression, and have a positive effect on your overall health. Stress affects your body in ways you may not realize. It can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, depression, and other health issues. Today I thought we’d take a quick look at how stress affects you, and how crochet and knitting can be therapeutic and help keep you healthy.
Effects of Stress on the Body
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress affects your body in many ways. High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are some of the ways stress can affect your health. Stress can also make you feel restless, anxious, irritable, and have a lack of focus. It can also weaken your immune system leaving you vulnerable to disease.
When your body feels stressed it releases hormones that can trigger your fight or flight defense. This increases your heart rate and respiration. Over time an increased heart rate and high blood pressure can weaken your arteries leading to serious health conditions.
Stress also triggers your liver to release extra glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream. This can lead some people to develop Type II diabetes. Heartburn and insomnia are also common complaints caused by stress.
How Crochet Relieves Stress
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It is a fact of today’s busy lifestyle. Finding a way to relax and relieve stress is essential for your health. Crochet can be an outlet for stress relief. The repetitive motions of crochet are thought to help center you and help you to relax. Focusing on a pattern can also help relieve stress. Studies have shown that repetitive motions of crochet trigger the parasympathetic nervous system which helps calm the fight or flight response.
In a recent survey of over 10,000 crocheters, 89 percent of them said crocheting helped relieve stress in their lives and helped them relax. Crocheting is fun and triggers your body to release the “feel good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is a natural antidepressant and helps you feel relaxed and happy. If I am worried about a situation I can pick up my crochet and escape for a bit leaving my worries behind. Many times, I will work out a solution to a problem while I work on my crochet projects.
Crochet Keeps Your Mind Sharp
Scientists have long known people who use their brains to stay sharp. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences reports, “People who engaged their minds by reading books, playing games or crafting had a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment, a possible precursor to Alzheimer’s.” Studies have shown seniors who crochet have better cognitive skills than those who do not take part in any type of crafting.
Dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms of cognitive decline. It is not a disease in of itself, but rather an underlying symptom of diseases and brain disorders. It is normally caused by a reduction in blood flow to the brain leading to the death of brain cells. Symptoms may include forgetfulness, mood swings, and personality changes. It is not a part of normal aging, and there are over 47 million sufferers around the world.
A study by Yonas Geda, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, showed crochet and knitting reduced dementia symptoms by as much as 50 percent. Studies have also shown crochet and knitting are crafts that can delay age-related memory loss in some seniors. It is thought by using the brain focusing on crochet patterns and stitches, the brain has an increase in blood flow which may help slow the effects of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
My grandmother and mother crocheted and knitted well into the 70’s and they had no signs of slowing down. Their minds were just as sharp as when they were in the 50’s. I really believe crochet and knitting helped their minds stay young and active. Also working with their hands helped reduce the effects of arthritis. Yet another benefit of crochet. I know it helps my hands from getting stiff and sore as get older.
Crochet Lets You Express Your Creativity
For people of all ages, crochet activates the creative hemisphere of your brain. This is the half of the brain where it is thought creativity and expression reside. Focusing on a pattern and planning a project activates the logical hemisphere of your brain where your cognitive skills are thought to reside. When you have both sides of your brain working it makes your mind sharper and keeps it fit.
Expressing your natural creativity is a wonderful way to alleviate depression and anxiety. When you plan a crochet project, such as a crochet baby blanket, you must first decide on a pattern. Now you get the fun of deciding on the color and type of yarn you will use. If you are like me your color choices depend upon your mood. Some days I want lots of colors, while other days I need a calm soothing palette to work with. I find the planning stage almost as relaxing and enjoyable as the actual crocheting.
Crochet Builds Self-esteem
How do you feel after you complete a project? I feel happy and proud. I have a sense of accomplishment. I bet you feel the same way. These feelings help build self-confidence and self-esteem. Low self-esteem can lead to several negative health issues, but crocheting helps build self-esteem by building new skills and allowing you to feel productive. It provides a useful way to express your creativity and a way to give to others. The act of visualizing and planning a new crochet project can boost your self-esteem and take your mind off your worries.
Crochet Helps Relieve Depression
A recent study published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy reports that 81 percent of the 3,500 yarn crafters with depression reported feeling happy and very happy after working on their projects. I have heard crochet called the new yoga. This refers to the focus you need to work a pattern. The repetition creates a calming effect relaxing your mind and lifting depression.
Crochet can also help relieve depression when you connect with others who enjoy the craft. Socialization is an important part of life. Humans are social, and depression can sometimes make you cut off from the world. This leads to more depression and loneliness. Even connecting online helps keep your world larger and helps keep depression from taking hold.
Crochet Teaches Math and Fine Motor Skills
Crochet is an excellent craft for children to learn. Not only will it help develop their fine motor and math skills, but it will also help nurture their self-esteem by enabling them to complete simple projects to show off.
Crochet also teaches children other important life skills.
- Fine motor skills
- Critical thinking
Crochet also teaches children to be responsible for their projects by remembering to bring them to class. It also teaches them to focus and follow through the step-by-step process of crochet. Goal setting is another important life skill crochet teaches children. By choosing a pattern and the materials to use, children set attainable goals and gain a sense of accomplishment when their project is complete.
I remember when I learned how to crochet. I was a young child and my grandmother taught me how important it was to count my stitches. She was also a stickler for neatness. No messy stitches for me. I learned very early how to rip out my work and start over. Today I use math to figure out patterns and foundation chains. By working with my hands, I keep arthritis at bay and keep my mind active.
Not only is crochet fun, but it has positive health benefits. What do you think? Have you found crochet projects help keep you centered? Have you used crochet to work through a hard time in your life? Please share your stories in the comments section. I’d love to hear how crochet has improved your life and your health.
Thanks for stopping by, and until next time, keep on hooking!
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