Life is stressful.
There’s never enough time or money to do the things you want to do and the demands of family and work are never-ending. No matter how much you do, and how hard you try, it’s is never enough.
You just can’t get it all done. You struggle to cope. It feels like you are fighting a losing battle.
And you know what? You are!
Life is stressful and that’s not about to change. And as long as you keep trying to beat the stress by doing more…you’re going to lose. (And it’s going to hurt. A. Lot.)
You see, stress is harmful. And the longer you operate in a state of high stress, the more harmful it is.
You need to change your game plan to beat stress. Your current strategy isn’t working (and is probably causing you more stress!)
Getting your stress levels under control is essential to improving and maintaining your health and wellbeing.
It must be a priority.
You’re health and happiness depend on it.
The good news?
You have more control over stress than you think.
Conscious living is about putting yourself in control – of your choices, your thoughts, emotions, your lifestyle, and how you deal with problems.
So that no matter what stressful situations life throws at you, you are aware, and you are in control.
You can make conscious choices to relieve the pressure and skillfully deal with stress as it arises, for the benefit of your health and well-being.
How To Deal with Stress Anytime and Anywhere, from Anything
An holistic approach to dealing with stress means tackling the issue from all sides. To do this, we first have to cultivate an awareness of what is happening moment-to-moment. Once we are aware, we can decide what action to take.
Generally, there are three options available to you:
1) Change what you can change;
2) Change your reaction to things you can’t;
3) Take care of yourself: rest, relax, restore.
Knitting is a self-soothing tool that can help you calm down and relax. As a meditation practice, knitting can help you cultivate mindfulness – an awareness of what is arising in the present moment. This is an essential skill for effectively coping with stress.
The great thing about knitting is it fits right in your bag (so it is always there when and wherever you need it.) With knitting in your wellness toolbox, you’ll have a go-to tool that you can use to cope with stress when it arises.
Do you want to cultivate a daily knitting practice?
10 Ways That Knitting Can Help You Cope with Stress
1) Rest and Restore (in solitude)
If you want to beat stress, you need to proactively carve out time to rest and restore. But taking time for “non-doing” is hard for most of us.
That’s why knitting is such powerful tool. It give you the perfect excuse to slow down and to sit still, yet you can still feel “productive.” It’s a healthy distraction from the constant call of social media, email, and technology in general. It gives you a much needed break from the insidious stresses of life.
The restorative benefits of knitting are even greater, when you practice in solitude. Alone time is good for you.
If at first, you don’t really like the feeling of being alone, let your knitting be a comfort to you, and start practicing. Practice being with yourself and your mind. In time, you’ll come to love the opportunity to retreat to the sanctuary of your peaceful mind 😉
2) Relaxation and Inner Calm
Knitting is known for its powerful ability to calm the mind and relax the body. It’s a way to actively and intentionally stimulate the body’s natural healing system – the relaxation response – to reduce your stress levels.
The rhythm and repetitive motions of knitting are calming and relaxing. In a recent study conducted by Stitchlinks and Cardiff University, researchers found that there was a significant relationship between the frequency of knitting and feelings of calm.
They found that the more often people knitted, the calmer they felt.
Knitters in the study mentioned both the rhythmic motions of knitting and the calming mediative-like feelings these movements induce, as a major reason for knitting every day.
3) Spark Joy
Doing something that you enjoy every day is essential to health and well-being.
Research suggests that increasing your positive affect – feelings like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm – could protect you from the negative impacts of stress. Researchers recommend carving out time every day to do things that you love to boost those “feel good” feelings!
Knitting is inherently enjoyable – the repetitive motions stimulate the release of serotonin, which is calming and a mood enhancer. But anyone who has been into yarn store lately, can tell you that just the sheer amount of luscious and colourful yarns available to knitters today will set your heart alight!
There are so many gorgeous knitting patterns, designs and yarns and needles to choose from!
Does knitting spark joy? Oh boy…It’s never been a more exciting time to be a knitter.
Mindfulness is often defined as a present moment awareness. Mindfulness meditation is a quickly growing in popularity as a practice that has many health benefits. It’s an effective and worthwhile mental skill to develop to manage long-term stress.
Mindfulness will help you to notice stressful emotions when they first arise. It is only with awareness, that you will be able to respond with self-compassion and free yourself from the destructive stories and negative thought patterns that we all habitually and “mindlessly” get caught up in.
As many Buddhist teachers have said: the suffering is in the stories.
Knitting has been shown to elicit a meditative-like state, similar to mindfulness. The bilateral, rhythmic and repetitive motions of knitting are important factors, allowing us to focus our attention and stay in the present moment.
Mindfulness can be a difficult skill to learn – especially when you are stressed, anxious or depressed. Knitting is a helpful tool in cultivating a mindfulness practice. Once you start to gain more experience with mindfulness during your daily knitting practice, you’ll be able to expand your mindful awareness to other aspects of your daily life.
5) Clarity of Mind
According to Bestasn Corkhill of Stitchlinks, even Albert Einstein was said to have knitted between projects to “calm his mind and clear his thinking.”
Whether it’s true or not, it’s certainly believable.
Knitting can help you to untangle your thoughts and gain clarity of mind. I know that whenever I am struggling to resolve an issue in my mind (and it’s stressing me out), I sit and knit. I am (almost) always able to better organize my thoughts and gain new insights to how I might resolve the issue.
According to research on creativity, when you are in a relaxed state of mind, high on dopamine (natural mood-enhancing hormone) and distracted by a task (i.e. knitting), your brain is most likely to come up with your best and most creative ideas.
6) Replace Unhealthy Coping Strategies
How do you currently cope with stress? Do you smoke, drink or take drugs, overeat or self harm?
These things can give you temporary relief from stress, but they’ll cause more harm and stress in the long term.
Knitting has been shown to be an effective tool to help people quit unhealthy habits and recover from destructive addictions and eating disorders. Recovery can be stressful, but many knitters have found comfort and support in the craft (and in knitting groups). In fact, many claim that knitting helped them to kick the habit altogether. For some, knitting has literally been a life-saver.
Knitting can help to relieve the stress and anxiety that comes with trying to quit an unhealthy habit. Once you kick the habit, knitting will become your new (and healthier) coping strategy when you experience stress.
7) Fosters Healthy Relationships and Social Interaction
Social isolation and loneliness can be a major source of stress for people, and is detrimental to health and wellbeing.
Positive social interaction (i.e. good friends equals good times) is a mood booster and powerful stress-buster. Knitting is a great conversation starter and is a way to connect with other people both online and offline who share your interest.
In a survey by Stitchlinks of knitters who knitted as part of a knitting group, 86% said that knitting with others gave them a feeling of belonging. 90% said that they had made friends through knitting, and 70% found it “usually” or “definitely” made it easier to talk to other knitters.
Those who knit in a group were more likely to feel calmer, happier, excited, useful, and better about themselves than those who didn’t.
There are knitting groups popping up everywhere, so check out your local yarn store (LYS) or Meetup.com to find a group near you. If there isn’t a local knitting group near you, there are tons of knitting groups and communities online (on Facebook and Google+) that are very active. Ravelry.com is also a huge knitting community that you should definitely check out.
8) Develop Emotional Resilience
Developing a knitting practice to proactively deal with stress is a smart strategy for developing resilience to stress in the long-term.
With practice, and over time, develop wisdom and mental skills to resolve problems more calmly. You’ll be able to exercise greater emotional control when stressful situations arise.
Effective stress management will also boost your immune system, protecting you from getting sick.
9) Portability (so it’s always there when you need).
The beautiful thing about knitting is that you can carry it with you in your bag, wherever you go, so it’s always there when you need it. You can knit almost anywhere at anytime (ok, maybe not when you’re driving), so if you’re triggered and feeling stressed, wherever you are, you can take a moment to knit.
As this becomes a habit for you, and you associate knitting with relaxation, you will notice the effects almost instantly.
Power tip: If you forgot to bring your knitting with you and a stressful situation arises, don’t worry. You can reap the same stress-relieving benefits of knitting by simply visualizing yourself knitting. Imagine you are knitting and imagine yourself feeling relaxed a result.
Seriously, it works!
10) Patient Acceptance and Non-Catastrophizing
Knitting can teach us that it’s okay to make mistakes and that mistakes are not the end of the world. They can be fixed, minimized, and at the very least, accepted as part of the process.
If a problem arises because of a mistake we have made, we can learn from our mistakes and grow as a person. In every mistake there is an opportunity to learn something. Take that opportunity to learn and try not to chastise yourself.
Practice self-compassion. Be kind. Treat yourself the same way you would treat your best friend who is learning to knit. Be encouraging and supportive.
Learning to think critically and problem solve is a skill that you can develop during your knitting practice, but it will trickle out into all aspects of your life.
Learn How to Deal with Stress with a Daily Knitting Practice
Knitting makes us feel good; It is relaxing, stress-reducing and soul-satisfying. That in itself is a good reason to do it every day.
It’s an all-natural, stress-reduction solution that fits right in your bag (so it is always there when and wherever you need it.)