Some of you may believe that needlework, such as crochet or knitting, is the domain of grandmothers. This, however, is not the case. About 1/3 of women ages 25 to 35 knit or crochet. Needlework groups for all ages and genders are popping up on college campuses, in libraries and in community centers. Most importantly, knitting and crocheting can be powerful tools for anyone who suffers from anxiety.
A number of studies have shown that needlework can put you in a relaxed, meditative state. It actually lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. Focusing your brain on your hands—on the tactile sensations and rhythmic finger movements—serves to both ground you in the present and distract you from your anxiety.* Needlework is also affordable and portable, which makes it a perfect soother.
Afraid of flying? Bring your knitting needles. Get anxious in the doctor’s office? Bring your crochet. Whenever you feel that obsessive worrying, grab for your yarn and re-focus your mind. You’ll end up relaxing and breathing deeper without telling yourself to do so!
And why not make your anxiety productive? Mags has a closet full of beautiful blankets born from a decade of panic!
*Note: the relaxation response happens once you gain a certain fluency with these crafts, as beginners have a learning curve.