Picture of knitting used to help overcome anxiety

Could knitting help with stress and anxiety?

There’s no two ways about it, too much stress is bad for us. Stress and anxiety can take their toll on our bodies and our minds. 

The physical symptoms of stress include headaches, muscle tension, fatigue and poor sleep. The effects on our mental health typically include problems concentrating, mild depression and anxiety. 

The cost of stress and anxiety

How do you relax at the end of a busy day? It sounds like a simple question but studies have shown that, as a nation, we’re finding it more and more difficult to unwind. As a result, we’re more stressed and our general happiness is suffering.

In its national study in 2019 the charity Mental Health found that 74% of UK adults had felt so stressed at some point in the previous year that they had felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

In a digital world where smartphones and the internet mean you’re usually never more than arm’s length away from a screenful of distractions, it seems we’re having to teach ourselves how to switch off – both from our devices and the pressures of modern life. 

Mindfulness can help us to relax

In the search for ways to de-stress, you might be turning mindfulness techniques to help you unwind. 

The practise of mindfulness involves focusing your attention on the present moment. Activities such as meditation, adult colouring and yoga are commonly associated with mindfulness as they can help you relax, allowing you to reach this desired state of focus.

If you’re not someone who finds it easy to switch off, choosing a repetitive activity to help you become more mindful can help. 

Why not try Med‘knit’ation?

Once the preserve of nannas in their rocking chairs, in recent years, the art of turning a ball of wool into something beautiful has gained popularity amongst men and women of all ages.

Knitting is beneficial for both mental and physical health and combining knitting and meditation – known as Med‘knit’ation – is becoming popular for all ages. 

The art of knitting has been around since at least Egyptian times. Today, it’s making a comeback not just as a way to get a great scarf, but also as a means of practising mindfulness to help relieve the symptoms of stress and low mood.

A study by Knit for Peace identified an array of physical benefits including reducing blood pressure, distracting from chronic pain and even helping to delay the onset of Dementia.

The mental health benefits similarly seem to be impressive. Knit for Peace found knitting is as relaxing as Yoga and can help reduce depression and anxiety, whilst knitting as part of a group can help relieve loneliness and isolation. 

Why knitting is good for mental health

When we carry out repetitive, creative motions such as those involved in colouring in, Origami or knitting; dopamine – the ‘happy hormone’ – is released from the reward centre in our brains. This chemical surge boosts our mood.

Experts believe one of the other reasons knitting is such a fantastic mood-booster is because you’re crafting something useful. We know being creative stimulates the reward centre of the brain which releases the neurotransmitters needed to combat mild anxiety or low feelings.

The very nature of knitting also encourages us to be mindful. It goes without saying that it’s pretty difficult to pick up your smartphone while holding a pair of knitting needles! For this reason, knitting may help us unwind more than activities like watching TV.

Moreover, anyone who has tried knitting before knows that quite quickly, it begins to feel like second nature. It is at this point that the craft begins to have a positive effect on your heart rate, blood pressure and even helping to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The result? You begin to feel relaxed.

How to get started with mindful knitting

If you want to experience the mental health benefits of mindful knitting for yourself, all you really need is a ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles. These are pretty affordable and easy to find, either online or – once the shops open – on the high street, or perhaps in an odds and ends box from your granny

Once you’ve got your tools ready, YouTube is a brilliant place to start if you don’t have a friend or family member to show you ropes. HappyBerry Knitting, Simply Maggie and Knit With Hannah are just a few of our favourites.

Calming your mind with St John’s Wort

If you find your mind often races and you struggle to be mindful, the natural herbal medicine, St John’s Wort may help. This powerful medicinal plant has been used as a natural remedy for the treatment of mild anxiety and low mood for centuries. Today, strong scientific evidence proves its effectiveness in tackling moderate depression and anxiety.

HRI Good Mood contains the highest dosage you can buy today. Like all our herbal medicines, it is licensed under the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) scheme herbal medicine (Licence Number THR 02231/0002) and is safe to take at the recommended dose. 

Always read the patient information leaflet to check for possible contraindications with any medication you are already taking. 

NB St John’s Wort is not recommended if you are taking the contraceptive pill or HRT as it can stop them working.

If you are interested in finding out news and information about a natural approach to supporting your health, beauty and wellbeing, why not follow HRI Herbal on Facebook @HRIHerbal?

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