As a nurse for many years, I witnessed the effects of chronic stress and pain on my patients as I helped them move toward recovery. I also found that effective tools that help them recover more quickly could make the difference in their medical outcome.
Chronic stress can cause or exacerbate up to 90 percent of medical conditions. Up to one in three of us will suffer from depression at some stage in our life. Nearly 100 million people in the U.S. live with chronic pain according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). So there is an urgent need to find effective, easily accessible tools to deal with stress and chronic pain, not just here in the US, but throughout the world. It's my belief that knitting can be one of those tools. What is it that makes knitting different and how can something so simple fill that need?
It's already known and accepted within the medical profession that people who are busy and focused feel less pain and depression, so that's a good start. However, there is now a growing amount of evidence that suggests that knitting has much more to offer. It isn't simply about keeping people occupied with an activity they enjoy. There's a lot more to knitting than initially meets the eye!
The rhythmic repetitive movements of knitting are important - but why, we're not absolutely certain, but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that knitting induces a form of meditation very similar to Mindfulness. Recent research has shown that Mindfulness can be very effective in treating depression and chronic pain. It can also help those who are fit and healthy to combat stress. It helps you to put into perspective any pressing issues that would normally dominate your waking thoughts helping you to find a stable balance between problematic events and feelings and find more positive, pleasant sensations within the current moment. It's a state of mind where you're not mulling over the past or worrying about the future, but instead you're living in the present. Sports enthusiasts call this mental state "The Zone."
Research done by Professor Richard Davidson of Wisconsin University has shown that practicing just eight weeks of daily Mindfulness can have a positive effect on brain function and even strengthen the immune system. Dr. Herbert Benson, Director of the Institute for Mind, Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital has carried out many clinical trials involving Mindfulness and has found that it can evoke the relaxation response to bring down blood pressure, heart rate and help to prevent stress related illnesses. He's even found that it can improve fertility and mentions knitting as one of the activities capable of evoking the relaxation response. So there you have it, it turns out you can have fun, be creative and actually improve your health. That's why many are now calling knitting "The New Yoga!"
The rhythmical repetitive movements of knitting are interesting in another respect. Research has found that repetitive movements enhance the release of serotonin. So it could be that the repetitive movement of knitting is causing the release of this chemical and could explain why knitters feel less pain, feel calm and report improved mood.
Knitting is obviously not the panacea to all pain and discomfort however it can be a tool you can use that's drug free, socially acceptable and stimulating for your creativity. We have several classes this winter to get you started. This month in our shop our students are making cozy slippers and toe-up socks that will help keep you warm. Our shop in Hayden has thousands of yarns available in a broad spectrum of weights, from drool-inducing chunkies down to lace yarns so fine that they double as embroidery wool! For quick projects that suit both men and women, try our warm and cozy Alpaca yarns. No matter what the project, there's beautiful yarn for the occasion and a team of professionals at Alpaca Direct to help you make it happen!
Alpaca Direct is a direct merchant of high quality yarn, apparel and socks. We stock a full line of fiber art accessories, from handcrafted needles and hooks to spindles and spinning wheels. Our unique selection of products also includes Peruvian alpaca sweaters, hand-loomed lace scarves, performance alpaca socks, cuddly alpaca teddy bears & unique international jewelry.
Our building is handicap accessible, with ample parking and is easy to find. We are located on Hayden Avenue, just two blocks west of Highway 95 at 1016 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden.
Our Alpaca fiber experts are on call 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Visit us at 1016 W. Hayden Avenue or online at www.AlpacaDirect.com - your local destination for luxury yarn, apparel and gifts. "Like" us on Facebook for exclusive coupons, product spotlights and news!
Kelley Hobart is the owner of Alpaca Direct.