Many people think of their knitting practice as a “tool” which can help them find comfort. Knitting can be compared with other objects to illustrate how it benefits our lives. These metaphors bring to light how we can approach knitting as a wellness tool. Knitting has so many layers and anyone can benefit from the endless creative possibilities. You can always try out a new technique and be continuously learning. There is no finish line with knitting!
KNITTING AS A…
When faced with an immediate urgent challenge, you can turn to your knitting to bring you back to the ground safely. If you have a plan to pull your chute and bring out your knitting when you feel out of sorts, those rhythmic stitches can help you recalibrate. If your knee jerk reaction to a challenge is to turn to your knitting, you are going to transform your fight or flight reaction into a relaxation response.
In life, you must ride out waves which are out of your control. A resilient approach would be to learn how to find your footing by simply focusing on the next stitch or the next right choice. When there is immense uncertainty surrounding you and the waves continue to crash around you, sometimes the only certainty is that the next stitch will help your fabric slowly grow.
One of the main advantages to knitting, in addition to being a bilateral craft that engages both sides of your brain, is that it is very portable. It is easy to pick up and put down and complete in small sips or doses. You can learn to tolerate long waits by using your knitting as a creative outlet that refreshes you just like a sip of water.
If you feel nervous entering new situations, or even traveling on public transport for instance, you will have the position of your knitting in your lap to mark your personal space bubble. What is special about knitting is that it can give you a common topic, whether it is the colors or texture, to break the ice and bring your shy shield down. While working on projects together you can remove some of the awkward tension of quiet moments since you can both take a moment to focus on your work.
At Project Knitwell, we are focused on helping those facing stress learn to knit. We find many new knitters are pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone. When the brain is stimulated by new stimuli it releases dopamine, which also activates the midbrain area and strengthens long-term memory and learning. Yonas Geda, Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, published a study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, which emphasized that engaging in various crafts and watching less TV resulted in a striking 30 to 50 percent decrease in the odds of having mild cognitive impairment.
Research shows that trying new things can stimulate new neural pathways as we stretch our senses in novel ways. Seeking ways to engage outside of your normal comfort zone or the desire to have new experiences is referred to as neophilia. Neophilia is a predictor of longevity because it turns out that people who seek out novel experiences live healthier, happier lives. Learn more from this article, Comfort zone orientation: Individual differences in the motivation to move beyond one’s comfort zone, which focuses on three studies examining the degree to which people value doing things that push them out of their comfort zone.