This topic is very important for me to talk about here on the Blog. I know I’m not alone in my suffering and it’s in my struggles that I found the love of creating, specifically, knitting!
You guessed it, I battle my mental health! No, not just a few bad days here or there.
I suffer with both depression and anxiety and have done for as long as I can remember; I just didn’t know it until I was in my mid to late twenties. Boy do I wish I’d figured it out earlier! Hindsight is an amazing thing…
Fortunately I have a very forgiving husband who, one. didn’t give up on me when a lot of people would have done (!!) and two. who gently suggested I go to the doctor after we had our first child. Yes, I also struggled with postpartum depression.
In our first sons year of life, while I was on Maternity Leave, I actually began to realise something wasn’t right. I think I’d spent so many years just focusing on work and getting on with life, because I thought I had to, that I really had no idea that there was actually anything wrong.
It took another year or so and a move to the other side of the world, to face my demons! I finally plucked up the courage to go and speak to a doctor.
I was getting close to hitting rock bottom, and sometimes it takes that to do something about a situation.
It was around this time that I took to knitting again. I had taught myself shortly before our first son was born, but had struggled to ‘get it’, with no one to help or guide me in the mistakes I was making. Don’t do what I did and watch lots of random YouTube videos and end up confusing yourself! Check out this post if you’d like to learn easily!
Once he was born, my time was obviously consumed with him and my new world of Motherhood and so I didn’t attempt to knit again until he was around 2 years old.
Actually, it started with me learning to crochet initially, which I took to really easily. After being inspired by a few friends in an online Mum community I was a part of.
Once I realised that I found crocheting ‘easy’, I decided that maybe knitting wasn’t actually so hard and got myself some needles to try again (I’d given those up in our big move!).
Let’s just say that I didn’t find it anywhere near as easy as crochet BUT I found the challenge of knitting drive me to keep practising.
The challenge kept me coming back. It helped me focus my negative thoughts into something positive.
That year I knit my parents, and my husbands parents, a cowl each for Christmas. I used this beautiful chunky yarn by Malabrigo. I was so proud of my commitment and the finished items and hurried to get the gifts posted back to the UK in time for Christmas.
My First Knitted Piece
I still have the first thing that I ever knit before my son was born. I had no idea what I was doing back then with regards to gauge, needle size versus yarn weight etc. I ‘attempted’ this piece with purely colour (to match my sons nursery) and a small blanket in mind. What do you think…okay, so epic fail BUT I kept it!! Ha ha.
You can see here the twisted stitches, the holes, the terrible gauge and the tail that I never did weave in on that insanely tight bind off edge…
You know what though, it doesn’t really matter if you enjoy creating for the process. I truly enjoy the process of knitting, however, creating something to be proud of at the end is like the icing on the cake!
It spurs you on to create more, and the more you practice, the better you get and the easier it becomes!
Knitting For Your Mental Health
1. Beat Addiction
It’s sad but true that mental health struggles can often lead to addiction, in many forms. This post isn’t about addiction so I won’t be discussing that in detail, however, I honestly believe that finding something like knitting to keep your mind busy can really help to focus your mind in a positive way.
I’m not saying that knitting will magically fix an addiction, far from it, but that it could really help to focus your mind at times when you need it most.
Read this article here, of a truck driver who beat a smoking addiction, through the art of knitting! You know what I love most about this post, is that it talks of a male knitting, not a female. Yes, men can knit too! I love how such a simple craft can bring others together, no matter your age, background, gender or race!
2. Reduce Unnecessary Snacking
Anyone else here a serial snacker? Yes, I hold my hands up! Being a work/stay at home mama, I find it so easy to accidentally navigate my way to the kitchen when I’m not actually hungry.
Also, when you have children, you need to be thinking ahead for snacks and meals for them often, and I find myself eating when I’m really not hungry or finishing off leftover pieces of their food.
When I focus my mind on something else, ie. working on a knitting project, I’m less likely to find myself wandering to the kitchen. I honestly eat less when I knit!
3. Create Something Through Your Struggles
The joy that comes from creating something with your bare hands, for me, is so rewarding! It’s something that you can’t lose, like learning to ride a bike.
Once you’ve learned the art, you will always know how to do it. Therefore, you will always be able to create something.
I’ve also found a real joy in gifting items I’ve created and am proud of. Some of my favourite finished pieces have been gifted. My husband, for example, LOVES hand knit socks and I try to make him a new pair each winter!
4. Mindfulness – Refocus Your Mind
In a world where we are so busy being busy, slowing down is important!
Knitting is a craft that doesn’t require electricity or technology (unless of course you take into account the learning process that may come from technology). Once learned, knitting in itself is extremely good for mindfulness or ‘being still’ in a moment!
I remember years ago sharing an image to one of my social media accounts stating ‘Knitting Is The New Yoga’ and although I’ve never practised yoga, I really do feel strongly how good such a portable craft can be for being mindful.
5. Learn Something New
This really should have been first on my list! There is always something new that can be learned in life and with knitting too!
Once you master one skill, there is always another that can be learnt. There are so many techniques and stitches, that there really is always a new skill to be learnt in this craft.
For example, as a beginner, once you have mastered the knit stitch, you may than want to learn the purl stitch! Believe me when I say there are so many techniques that can be learned with this craft and I love to learn! They do say you should learn something new everyday!
If you are struggling and need someone to turn to, please reach out to someone you can trust. A member of family or a friend can be a great source of strength, however, if you don’t feel there is anyone close to you who you can talk to, there are other sources of help. Depending on where you are from, here are some sources…
There is always help, always! It might not feel that way right now, but believe me, you can get help, you are important and loved. Don’t give up!
So to summarise how I feel about knitting and why it’s good for your mental health
- I enjoy the planning – keeps your mind busy!
- I enjoy the process – keeps your mind and hands busy!
- I enjoy the picture taking opportunities – keeps your mind and hands busy!
- I enjoy the accomplishment – the endorphins!
- I enjoy knitting, in all it’s forms! Yes, really, even the mistakes and the trial and error.
I hope that this post has given you an insight into how knitting can help with Mental Health. Mental health battles are never ‘easily’ fixed, however, I believe that we can use a number of tools to work on improving our days and knitting is just one of those!
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Thanks for reading!