Feeling Overwhelmed? Studies Show Knitting and Crocheting Can Help Lower Stress Levels

·4 min read
Feeling Overwhelmed? Studies Show Knitting and Crocheting Can Help Lower Stress Levels

If getting through the past couple of years has left you feeling a bit unsettled, you're not alone: A recent study shows that American adults are still experiencing higher levels of stress than they were before the pandemic. So if you've been on the hunt for some good news, here it is: Research shows there's an easy (and fun) way to naturally improve your mental health.

Grab your knitting needles and dig out your yarn stash, because knitting, crocheting, and crafting have all been linked to lowering stress levels and increasing your body's dopamine production. If you don't have any of the supplies already, we've rounded up the best beginner craft kits you can order online to help you get started.

Guido Mieth Knitting has ben proven to ease stress and anxiety at home.

How Does Crafting Reduce Stress?

The British Journal of Occupational Therapy published a study about the correlation between knitting and wellbeing in adults. The study, which included data from more than 3,400 knitters across the world, found that there's "a significant relationship between knitting frequency and feeling calm and happy." In fact, 81% of survey takers with depression reported feeling genuinely happy after knitting. The results also showed higher cognitive functioning in adults who had just spent time knitting. Plus, the hobby has also been linked to reducing arthritis and relieving chronic pain.

It turns out the repetitive nature of knitting and crocheting is what helps your brain relax, while the creative high of actually making something with your hands signals your body to naturally release dopamine, the "feel-good chemical" our body produces to make us happy. An article from CNN also backs up these claims: Research shows that leisurely creative activities (like crafting and sewing) can reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 50%.

Keep in mind that while activities like crafting, knitting, and sewing have been shown to lower levels of stress, these creative outlets are by no means a cure-all for clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders. If you have persistent symptoms of anxiety and depression, seek help from a medical professional as well.

How to Get Started

If you don't know how to knit or crochet but want to learn, you're not alone. Throughout the pandemic, we've heard from many of our readers that they picked up knitting and crochet as a hobby to keep their hands and minds busy while they were quarantined. And the good news is, they're easy skills to learn!

Pick Up a Pair of Knitting Needles

If you've never learned to knit before, it's fairly easy to learn. And, you can buy all the materials you need online as you work through our guide to knitting basics. We recommend this Learn to Knit Kit ($74, Purl Soho) because it has all the materials and instructions you'll need to learn three basic stitches. Once you've mastered those, work your way up to making a pair of mittens or even a knitted dog toy. If knitting with needles isn't your thing, try arm knitting a chunky blanket.

Learn How to Crochet

Last year I discovered Jonah Larson, a 12-year-old crochet prodigy whose Instagram account, @jonahhands, has gone viral. Jonah inspired me to learn the basic crochet stitches and start some new crochet projects, like the daily temperature blanket project. To make the blanket, you knit or crochet a few rows each day in a color that corresponds to the weather outside (and now is the perfect time to stay home and catch up on the last few months if you're just starting a blanket for this year). Grab a set of crochet hooks ($6 for 6 hooks, Michaels) and a few skeins of yarn ($3, Michaels) to your cart and you'll be able to start crocheting a blanket in just a few days.

Try a Simple Sewing Project

If you're not a sewer already, our ultimate sewing guide can help you get started on any of our 40+ easy sewing projects anyone can make. Sew your own DIY canvas tote bag or make a stash of reusable sandwich wraps for when you need to start packing lunches again.