Knitting Calms the Mind, Lowers Blood Pressure

If a dreary, wet, cool fall day isn’t good enough reason to break out last year’s woolen project, new research may have you convinced. Studies have found that knitting can help lower blood pressure and focus the mind, calming the body and the brain.  Who doesn’t need that in today’s fast-paced digital world?

Knitting has gained popularity over recent years, and it’s not surprising that people of all ages find the activity a welcome break each day.  According to a recent Dallas Morning News report, some people start knitting to avoid snacking in the evening or give their hands something to do while quitting smoking.  And it’s impossible to be checking social media, texts or emails while counting stitches.  

Not everyone is cut out for meditation, but knitting calms the nervous system in much the same way.  Breathing is more regulated and by focusing on the task at hand, the mind can settle.  Research has found that keeping fingers nimble with regular knitting can help prevent arthritis from worsening.  Knitting may even help you become a better listener and a more intuitive friend because the craft requires intense focus and combines the mind (following a pattern) with the body (manipulating yarn).  The color of the yarn, it’s feel, even the clicking of the needles can create a meditative state.   And although much of the enjoyment knitters derive from their art is in the process itself, there is also a great sense of accomplishment in completing a project.

And that’s not all a passion for knitting can provide; according to a research review by Knit for Peace, knitting has many physical and mental health benefits besides helping people to feel more relaxed.  Knitting can distract from chronic pain, reduce depression among older adults by making them feel useful and lower the risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Knitting can also be a social activity; there are many knitting classes or groups that get together regularly to help each other solve problems and often members wind up becoming close friends.  Remember the Norwegian and Finnish Ski Teams knitting between runs at the Winter Olympics? Skiers and coaches alike use the craft to de-stress while waiting slope side for their event or as a team-building activity during off-time.   Feeling inspired?  You can find patterns for Nordic sweaters online at Ravelry, a free site for knitter and crocheters.