I follow a lot of crochet pages on facebook and there are always articles purporting the health benefits of crochet. 18 months ago I would never have believed something so simple could have such a profound effect on someones life but I believe that for me, it has.
CNN recently reported that “in one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.” (Vercillo)
Sometimes I suffer from that awful, clawing, sad, nervous, twisting thing called anxiety. Sometimes it’s just that hangover anxiety we all get, it just lasts a day and I tell myself its due to low blood sugar or lack of salt or something. Sometimes I find that I’m not doing things such as checking my bank balance or paying a bill because the thought of confronting it is just to scary. Sometimes i panic and stress over the minutiae when I seriously do have much bigger things to worry about. I have an overactive mind, I think about things far too much which leads to scary possibilities and improbable outcomes. I’m afraid of confrontation and don’t like to stand up for myself and end up being a passive aggressive. Sometimes I can’t sleep, I toss and turn all night staring into the dark with a horrible sick feeling worrying about everything, it’s like a radio refuses to turn off in my head. I’ve tried meditation but usually just end up thinking about something awful. The best thing I find, when I feel like this, is to think ‘it isn’t real, its anxiety, its a biological thing’.
A year ago when I took up crochet, I just wanted a hobby, I had a need to be creative. I never dreamed of the positive benefits it would have over me.
As I crochet my mind is concentrating, it’s mindful but it’s focused. It’s even better when I have to count stitches or follow a repetitive pattern, as I really don’t have room in mind head for anything else. I think this is what they call ‘mindful meditation’. This also calms my shouty mind before bed.
With crochet, I’m never stuck for something to do. Whether its planning projects, perving over granny afghans on pinterest, planning, reading blogs, blogging or just wielding a hook, I’m never bored. And as all habitual worriers know boredom leads to thinking which leads to worry.
I’m also a massive fidget. M’s always complaining because my feet are constantly squirming as I’m curled up on the sofa. My legs are perpetually jiggling when I’m sat in meetings. I can never usually concentrate on one thing, I’m up and off doing something else as I remember it. Leaving work unfinished, washing half done, baths running, dinner burning, books unread, I swear it’s adult ADHD. (that’s another thing with anxiety, hypochondria…) But with crochet I’m truly able to immerse myself in it.
Crochet has sparked my creative side, a side I never knew I had. I’ve finally found something I’m quite good at! It’s built my self esteem, I can create things, I can do things I once thought were difficult, I can give people extra special presents.
Crochet is also a great conversation starter, everyone’s interested in it and everyone wants to give it a go. In fact, the only people who look at me like I’ve grown a second head are old people! The make do, mend, upcycle and homemade culture is really fashionable right now.
It’s also so easy to take around with you. I have a special bag with my current project, a hook roll, some yarn, stitch counters and scissors that I take to work, trains, on trips etc. But sometimes when I’ve got a 30 minutes passenger car journey I just pick up the project and a hook. It’s not messy like other crafts (M would disagree, he’s forever picking up snipped tails and random ends off the carpet) and certainly doesn’t need to be expensive..
I’m not saying that crochet has cured me, I’ll always be a worrier, I’ll always have irrational thoughts some days and I’m not saying it’s for everyone. But I know for a fact that crochet makes me happy, it’s calming, it’s a distraction, it’s a sleep aid and also it’s something to look forward to at the end of a long day.
A book I haven’t read but would like to is Crochet Saved my Life by Kathryn Vercillo, the author of Crochet Concupiscence blog, who appears to echo my views. Let me know if you’ve read it.
Next up: warm winter snood and matching mittens!