How Knitting Helps with my Anxiety

Nobody here in snowy, cold Edmonton is entirely thrilled about how chilly it already is, except for me. That’s because it's the green light to start stocking up on yarn and get knitting! What better time to make scarves and other cozy things than when it gets a bit frosty?

I’ll be the first to admit that my knitting skills aren’t great. The most ambitious thing that I have made as of now is a simple toque, and although I’ve got about two years of experience under my belt, I shy away from patterns that seem even the slightest bit challenging. But I don’t really mind. While the draw to knitting are the variety of things to create, the main reason I like to knit is that it has done wonders for my anxiety.

I’m an over thinker, especially if my mind is left to wander. When I overthink, I begin to worry. I have struggled with anxiety for years, and while I go to therapy and take medication I still have lots of nervous energy. I have found that one of the best things I can do is something creative, especially if it’s artistic. Drawing used to be my go-to, but I find that the hands-on aspect of knitting tends to help me a bit more.

With the knitting keeping my hands and brain busy, it blocks out all the room where an unwanted worry can sneak it. It doesn’t completely occupy all my attention, though. I’m a natural daydreamer, and knitting actually helps me focus better while I’m in a lecture or watching a video. It keeps my thoughts and attention in the moment.

 

Even the feeling of the yarn in my hands and lap is calming for me. My favourite yarn to work with is the bulky, thick wool, and with it in my lap or in my hands is very similar to the sensation of a weighted blanket. When combined with the repetitive motions of the knitting and purling, it completely relaxes me like nothing else can. As soon as I have my knitting needles in my hands, I can almost immediately feel tension in my body begin to lessen.

I know that knitting may seem daunting to those who have never tried it, but it is really quite easy to learn, especially now in 2018. There are so many awesome resources out there, especially on YouTube. You can easily find videos of how to cast on yarn onto knitting needles, and how to knit and purl, even more advanced techniques like adding or decreasing stitches too. There is also a wealth of patterns available online of various projects to make that are suitable for all expertise levels.

What I recommend is start out by making simple washcloths until you get the stitches down, then you can try a beginner pattern. Here are some of my favourites:

 

Easy Knit Snood (like a thick infinity scarf)

 

Chunky Cable Knit Headband

 

Easy Fit Ribbed Hat

 

With Christmas fast approaching, I have been knitting almost nonstop, and I can’t wait to give what I have made to my family and friends. While it is amazing to have the end result of beautiful knit goods in my possession, the true benefit is just how therapeutic the process is for me. It’s a win/win!

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash