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Knitting Is Good For You

It's calming. And you get a sweater.

We keep hearing that knitting is the new yoga.

People like to play with their hands. I think that's one reason we're so into our electronic gadgets today.

You can also bring your needles to a gathering and knit (or crochet) without appearing rude.

Knitters across the world say it's the best therapy. Betsan Corkhill, a British physiotherapist, founded an organization in Bath called Stitchlinks to promote knitting as a therapeutic practice. She and her colleagues have completed a report from a 2012 conference and published an academic paper based on responses to an online survey from 3,545 knitters worldwide.

Guess what? Knitting makes women who like to knit feel good.

One study found that patients in an eating disorder unit said that knitting distracted them from obsessing about food and their bodies.

For any of us who are ill, unemployed or bored, staying occupied is clearly good for our health, especially when a hobby is connected to a social circle. Knitting has particular benefits. The rhythmic movements seem to put us in the present moment, distracting us from mulling over the past or fear of the future. The relaxation response is known to bring down blood pressure, heart rate and help to prevent stress related illnesses. We rock babies in cradles and sit in rocking chairs because rocking has a powerful calming effect.

Therapists who use Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) with trauma victims around the world say that moving your eyes from one side to the other has good effects.

Moving your eyes from side to side or rolling them around is also a yoga technique.

Corkhill sees knitting as a “constructive addiction” that replaces other habits like smoking and binge eating or obsessive checking. One blessing is that you can take your relaxation tool with you and do it in public. And while knitting does not require artistic talent or expensive equipment, it produces objects that people enjoy. Knitters will tell you that just stroking their yarn cheers them up.

In fact, Corkhill reports that many chronically ill, or disabled people who aren’t working or those looking for work can overcome a feeling of aimlessness simply by taking up knitting. Planning a sweater gives them impetus to plan other activities. Knitting also appears to be a pain-reliever. Pain doesn't originate in the spot where you feel it, but actually in your brain, when it interprets signals from other parts of your body. But your brain can't concentrate on two compelling activities at the same time. “Knitting can quite literally take your mind off pain,” Corkhill writes.

Finally, if you can learn to relax while knitting, you can remember again what it feels like not to be tense and recall that feeling in stressful situations.

It won't cost you much and it could do wonders. Why not?

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