Our resident psychologist investigates…knitting your way out of depression!
If you thought knitting was for grannies think again. Knitting is now so popular that an estimated four million people in the UK cast on every day, and there are groups popping up all over the country who use knitting as a way to beat stress and have fun.
Even celebrities, from Russell Crowe to Madonna, are at it: hailing knitting as the new yoga. It seems that not only does “make it and mend it” make sound economic sense, but it also does us some good as well.
Creating things to feel good
As a psychologist I am always aware of the how things affect us on a mental / emotional level and I have always known, on an intuitive level, that making and creating things makes people feel good.
Recent studies have shown that not only does it make us feel good, with that sense of satisfaction of a job well done, but it can also physically help us:
- deal with pain
- improve feelings of well-being
- significantly change your outlook on life.
Secret uncovered on craft magazine
Betsan Corkhill, a former NHS physiotherapist, realised that even maximum doses of medication were relatively ineffective if the core issues of loneliness, low self-esteem, anxiety and “an unoccupied mind left to ruminate on problems” were not provided for.
Disheartened by the lack of interest in these problems, Betsan left the NHS in 2002 and went to work on craft magazines. To her surprise she discovered “huge amounts” of emails and letters extolling the health benefits of cross-stitching and knitting, saying they had help alleviate even suicidal depression and had allowed people to reduce some pain medication. Fascinated and inspired Betsan started to research the therapeutic effects of knitting and stitching.
Knitting has a neurochemical effect
Findings to date suggest that knitting has a neurochemical effect on the brain. Monica Baird, pain specialist at the Royal United Hospital Bath states “It changes brain chemistry for the better, possibly by decreasing stress hormones and increasing feel-good serotonin and dopamine.”
It seems that knitting could be a cheap and accessible intervention that functions as an effective, informal, pain-management aid.