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Navigating Life's Journey Blog

Helping others navigate this journey of Life!

A weekly blog from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department

Crafting for Health

by Ashley Foster - January 24, 2019

Why try crafting?

Need a reason to craft more? Or what to tell your family when they ask about the hours you spend making scarves? Crocheting and knitting are good for you! In one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.

What are the benefits of crafting?

81% survey respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy."
  • Reduced stress. Stress is one of our leading health problems. Its effects range from migraines and fatigue to heart failure and early memory loss. Reducing stress reduces disease. Using knitting or crochet as meditation can be a daily way to minimize the effects of stress in your life.

  • Helps relieve and reduce depression and anxiety. Depression relief is by far the most reported and studied benefit of crochet and knitting. The repetition of the crafts has been shown to release serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.

  • Projects help build self-esteem. Simply visualizing, working on and then creating a product can make you feel better about yourself. This has helped people with everything from coping with the fear of unemployment to gaining the strength to leave abusive relationships.

  • Decreased risk of cognitive impairment as you age. Several studies have shown that knitting and crochet can postpone age-related memory loss. The crafts can also be soothing for those people who are already experiencing signs of dementia. Recently, researcher Yonas Geda, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, completed a study that showed knitting is neuroprotective and may reduce dementia by as much as 50%.

  • Can help with insomnia. Insomnia is a terrible feeling. You are tired but you can’t sleep so then you’re frustrated that you can’t sleep, which just makes it harder to sleep. Yarncrafts to the rescue! Focus on a soft, soothing, easy, repetitive crochet or knit project and your body and mind can often wind down enough to get to bed. A study by professor Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute found that 100% of insomnia patients reported improved sleep with 90% being able to eliminate medication in a program that included knitting.

  • Relaxation reduces irritability and restlessness. Crochet and knitting can help you through any times when you feel grumpy, restless, frustrated or bored. This positive outlet preserves your relationships and keeps your mood balanced.

  • Builds community and friendships. No matter what health issue you are dealing with, it helps to have a community of support around you. Here' an idea. Start a craft group face-to-face or online!

  • Can help with grief processing. Loss is a horrible thing and none of us escape it. During periods of deep grief it can seem impossible that you’ll ever be able to function again. Crochet and knitting can be one of the most comforting things during this time. It’s something that you can do without a lot of money or effort. It’s something you can do in small bits, when you have the energy. It can, for a moment, take your mind off of your pain. The textures and colors of the yarn, the warmth of the item that you’re creating and the beautiful up/down motion of stitch upon stitch can get you one day closer to feeling okay again.

But why do crocheting and knitting help?

  • Relaxed, repetitive motions can help calm down the body and the brain.
  • Help with fine motor skills and keeping your fingers and hands feeling good as you age.
  • Being among friends can help combat loneliness and isolation, which can contribute to health problems.
  • Builds social skills.
  • For men and women.

 Need some help getting started?

Check out the resources below.


Craft Yarn Council

The American Counseling Association

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