I posted a week or so ago about the benefits of knitting or other creative activities for lifting the mood, increasing calm and improving self esteem. I have had some great responses from the short questionnaire and every one has mentioned that creative activities either help to reduce stress and induce an increased sense of calm.
There seems to be two different aspects that are emerging. I can relate to both the benefits of repetition and immersing yourself in the task. As well as knitting I enjoy drawing with coloured pencils and I become totally engrossed in the whole process. In fact I could go so far as to say that I look up after an afternoon drawing and almost feel as if I’ve been asleep. I am totally focused on decisions such as; what colours to use, the orientation of the paper, the technique I’m going to try and the continuous review of all of the above as well as the image. The concentration needed for the whole process leaves me no more room to concern myself with any other information. I don’t think any of my creations are of great merit, but I love doing them.
Knitting has a different focus for me. Without a doubt, the counting, repetition and process are really valuable. I have always been a counter and still am. If I’m climbing stairs, I can usually tell you how many there are by the time I get to the top. The pattern repetition is key also. Even with a simple pattern I usually convert it to a number list. I recently finished the Counterchange shawl. The main part of this is an 8 stitch pattern done using the mosaic method. For each row the order of the slip and knit , or white and blue, stitches varied, so I would remember the repeat as a series of numbers. Row 1 was 3,1,2,2 whereas row 4 was 3,1,3,1. Each sequence started with the colour I was using for that row. So row 1 would be if I was using blue wool, 3 blue, 1 white (slipped), 2 blue, 2 white (slipped). I find this both helpful to keep the pattern and the repetition provides calm and focus.
There is nothing new in this information. Betsan Corkhill is a lifestyle health coach who has written, Knit for Health and Wellness. She has been researching the benefits of knitting since 2005. She advocates that need to address the whole person, ensuring that our minds and bodies are able to function together. She uses a great analogy when discussing our wellness. The ‘hardware’, our physical being is mostly well catered for but it is important to remember that our ‘software’, the mind, and brain do not function in isolation. As she says in a recent blog post “Our ‘hardware’ – physical body – and our ‘software’ – the workings of our mind and the YOU that is YOU are intricately woven together with each other, as well as with our environment, culture and past.” The last three of the list are also important. You bring your whole experience to any activity that you engage in. What you have done before, how you have reacted or what the outcomes were all influence your current mindset and actions.
I have just bought her book and will share some insights in the near future. In the meantime, I’m still collecting stories from others. If you would like to contribute, then please complete the short questionaire here.