By: Chelsea Manzon, Clinical Intern
The therapeutic intervention of Mindfulness has been linked, through research, to increased attention 1, 2, emotion regulation 3, 4, 5, self-compassion 6, 7, 8, and stress reduction 9, 10, 11. Mindfulness emphasizes awareness and taking in the present moment, rather than focusing on past stress and grievances. This includes being aware of one’s own body and how it is affected by our activities and our lives. The mind-body connection is more obvious in activities like yoga and meditation. However, knitting is a common activity that also works hand-in-hand with mindfulness. The feelings of touch can serve as a gateway into the present moment and provide a different type of meditation to achieve calm and decrease stress. Specifically, the feeling of the knitting needles and the yarn working together in the hands, the contrast of the new materials, and the pattern you choose can also help with preventing arthritis and cognitive decline through focus and mental exercise.
Many of the clients we encounter at JCADA suffer from intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and depression, as a result of abuse and past trauma. Knitting gives a sense of accomplishment through creation, and allows the knitter to create something for themselves or someone else, while still receiving the mindful benefits of knitting. This sense of achievement can help reduce symptoms of depression through completion of a project, while active participation in knitting can give the knitter a sense of purpose – no matter how small. Focusing on the repetition can give the knitter freedom from intrusive thoughts and an undercurrent of anxiety, using the pattern and stitches to occupy their thoughts and to create something new and beautiful.
Because of these benefits, JCADA hosted a special group workshop on knitting and mindfulness for our clients, which received an overwhelmingly positive response and attendance. Participants also mentioned the sense of community among fellow survivors of domestic abuse and expressed the desire form a Knitting Circle to create continued informal opportunities for support amongst the attendees.
If you have a desire to find a therapeutic knitting circle in your community, please visit the Craft Yarn Council Guild Boards or at Project Knitwell for those living in the Greater Washington area. Happy Knitting!
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