Yes I crochet to reduce anxiety, and I recommend you do too. As a care partner living with my guy who has Parkinson’s, I deal with anxious moments. Our future is precarious and sometimes it can worry me silly. Managing unsettled feelings is probably my most persistent challenge, which is why I’ve had to come up with some very effective tools to keep my physical and mental health in check. Crocheting to reduce anxiety is one of those powerful tools.
I learned to crochet and knit in high school but it wasn’t until my mid-thirties when I began to crochet to reduce anxiety. I had no idea this was an actual researched phenomenon until years after that but somehow I intuitively knew crocheting, and the soothing repetitive motion of moving needle and yarn, would help calm my stress.
Come to find out there is research behind this, and it makes sense. Although there is more formal research on the benefits of knitting than crocheting, the data is similar for crocheting. They both are creative craft endeavors, using needles and yarn in a repetitive motion.
This study explored the relationship between crocheting and well-being. It concluded there were positive benefits, stating many participants used crochet to manage mental health conditions and life events such as grief, chronic illness, and pain.
As a care partner caring for my guy with Parkinson’s, I can definitely relate to this study. I’ve always enjoyed the craft of crochet, and the rhythm of the movement brings me a sense of calm. But as Doug’s Parkinson’s progresses, I find I am using crochet to reduce anxiety more and more.
History Of Crochet
The word crochet is Old French stemming from the German word “croc”, which means “hook”. Crochet was used in French lace making in the 17th-century.
The first known published instructions for crochet appeared in a Dutch magazine called Penélopé in 1823.
Irish crochet, a form of crochet lace work, actually began around 1845 as a form of famine relief in Ireland during the Great Irish Famine. It was a way for families to make money, and all were involved – men, women, and children. The Irish brought this style of crochet with them when they immigrated to America.
Crocheting gained in popularity in the US after World War II. It was common to make doilies, potholders, and other items for the home.
Now in the 21st century crochet has become increasingly popular. The improvement of the quality and variety of yarns, as well as the increasing number of patterns available all have helped.
Anxiety & Crochet Therapy
Crochet therapy is an informal way to combine mindfulness based stress reduction practices with crochet projects, which can be a great habit to develop in order to help work out emotions.
Michelle Borst Polino of the American Counseling Association worked with seniors struggling with onset dementia by forming crochet groups. These groups were similar to coffee clutches, where they would crochet different projects for a variety of charity organizations such as chemo caps for cancer patients, loveys for preemies etc.
This allowed the seniors to discuss their issues and concerns while also bringing a sense of meaning and purpose to their lives. Friendships also extended outside of the group, and gave the seniors a sense of social connection.
10 Health Benefits of Crochet
Based on THIS article, here are 10 benefits to pick up your crochet needle.
- Relieves depression – the repetitive motion of crochet releases serotonin, which can help to lift mood and depression.
- Reduces anxiety – crochet can help with anxiety in a number of ways. The repetitive motion can help calm the mind. Counting patterns helps with anxious thoughts, obsessive compulsive disorder, and even eating disorders. And if you struggle with social anxiety, crochet can be helpful by still going out while keeping your hands busy and mind focused on crafting.
- Builds self-esteem – creating a crochet project builds new skills, gives you a sense of productivity and accomplishment, and it is also a great means of self-expression.
- Reduces or delays dementia – similar to crossword puzzles and other brain activities, crochet can be neuroprotective.
- Helps with insomnia – doing a soothing, easy, repetitive motion like crochet has shown to greatly improve those who struggle with insomnia.
- Reduces irritability and restlessness – similar to the reasons one can crochet to reduce anxiety, it can also help us deal with irritability and restlessness through the concentrated, focused distraction of working on a crochet project, and its repetitive motion.
- Prayer – crocheting as part of your prayer routine can also enhance not only your prayer practice but a diverse array of health benefits.
- Builds community – through local crochet groups, fairs, yarn stores, and other community connections.
- Helps with grief processing – the comforting and soothing repetitive motions, the softness and warmth of your yarn, all can help lift your mood and energy, even if for a little bit of time.
- Reduces stress – as with all of these health benefits, crochet provides a relaxing and soothing repetitive motion, which can often become a meditative like process, which can help minimize stress in your life.
Did You Know?
- Yarn Bombing – started in the US and spread around the world. It is a form of graffiti or street art to beautify a neighborhood, using knit or crochet yarn instead of chalk.
- Chemo Caps –
- Crochet Coral Reef Project – started by two sisters, Christine and Margaret Wertheim. The Crochet Coral Reef Project is a collective art and science initiative, with now over 20,000 participants from around the world. Millions of stitches and crochet coral reefs get displayed to draw attention to global warming.
Why I Love To Crochet To Reduce Anxiety
I like to crochet for several reasons. The creativity of making something beautiful, the meditative quality of the repetitive up and down motion of a crochet hook, and the beautiful, soft, comforting yarns.
However the main thing I’ve discovered over these past few years is that I really enjoy crochet to reduce anxiety. For example, one day Doug, my guy with Parkinson’s, was watching the news and I just couldn’t take watching it any longer. I could feel my worry anxiety increasing the longer I watched.
So I grabbed my crochet project and went into the other room. I just sat there crocheting, quietly, and allowing my brain and fingers to get into the repetitive rhythmic motion of crochet. Within ten minutes I could feel my body begin to relax again, and I could feel the anxiety I once had slowly dissipate.
That was when I truly realized just how therapeutic crochet was for me. I don’t crochet everyday, and quite honestly during the summer time, when it’s warm outside, I hardly crochet at all. But come fall, when the weather starts cooling, it’s like a switch, and I pick up crochet again – to reduce anxiety, to build and create something beautiful, and to enjoy its rhythmic pattern.
Giving Crochet A Try
If you enjoy crafting, I hope you will consider adding crochet to your list, if you haven’t already done so. And if you have never crochet before, I really hope you pick it up and give it a try!
Crocheting is easy, and fun, and it can be quite therapeutic. Use crochet to reduce anxiety but also for many other beneficial emotional and mental health reasons as well.
If you have no idea how to crochet and would like some beginner tips and instruction, I highly recommend these website to help get you started.
Also you can find the dishcloth pattern I used HERE. I liked this pattern because it created a thicker, more rough texture, which is perfect for dishcloths, to really get in there and scrub hard.
check out these other posts for more ideas on how to take care of your health as a busy care partner
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I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, and I hope you will give crocheting a try to reduce anxiety.
If you did, please let me know in the comments below, or post a pic with the hashtag #parkinsonsandus and show me your creation.
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