I knew intuitively because of my own experience that crochet could be something to help people heal through a variety of different health conditions. I didn’t quite know why that was before I delved into researching the topic, though. There are many reasons that crochet helps with healing. Here are ten of the most common ones:
1. CROCHET BUILDS SELF-ESTEEM.
Your self-esteem can take a huge beating when you are dealing with a long-term illness. This is true of mental illness in part because of the stigma attached to various conditions but mostly just as a terrible side effect of the condition. It’s almost impossible to feel truly depressed and still have high self-esteem, for example. Self-esteem can wane during periods of physical illness as well, because the patient may feel helpless and incapable of doing the things that they could normally do and therefore somehow less worthy than they were prior to the illness. Low self-esteem can exacerbate illness of any kind.
Crochet is a great craft for building self-esteem. It encourages you to make choices based on personal preference (such as yarn color and project type). When you learn a new stitch or complete a project, you feel a sense of pride. There is the feeling that, “hey, if I can do this, then I can do other things, too!” And when people see the finished item and express their interest in it then the self-esteem gets yet another boost.
2. CROCHET IS A DISTRACTION ACTIVITY.
Sometimes the best way to deal with an illness is to take your mind off of it. Here are some examples:
- If you’re dealing with depression and anxiety then you may experience a cycle of rumination that drives you deeper and deeper into a dark mental space and it becomes imperative that you take your mind out of that cycle by focusing on other activities.
- In the case of addiction, it becomes important to focus the mind on something other than the object or act one craves.
- When you have a pain condition that requires non-narcotic pain management it can help to take the mind off of the part of the body that hurts.
Crochet is a focused activity that can keep both the mind and the hands busy.
3. CROCHET CAN ENABLE MINDFULNESS.
Mindfulness means being aware of how you are feeling and experiencing the present moment. Tuning into the present is another form of distraction as well as a means to calming the body. Mindfulness therapy is commonly used to treat a myriad of mental health conditions including depression and bipolar disorder. When approached with practiced attention, crochet can be used as a tool to reach a mindful state.
4. CROCHET RELEASES SEROTONIN.
Scientific studies suggest that repetitive activities like the act of crocheting can release serotonin in the body. Serotonin increases your pain threshold
so it can help with pain conditions. Higher serotonin levels also play an important role in getting depression under control (which is why many psychiatrists prescribe medications designed to boost serotonin). Crochet is a natural way to get that serotonin release in the body.
5. CROCHET IS COLORFUL.
There is much evidence available that suggests that color can be healing for a variety of health conditions including both physical and mental health. Color therapy (and the related art of light therapy) has be used to treat depression (including Seasonal Affective Disorder), addictions, eating disorders and even bowel problems. Yarn comes in every color of the rainbow so if you believe in the value of color for altering mood and improving how you feel about your health then you might explore which colors are best to introduce into your upcoming projects!
6. CROCHET CONNECTS YOU TO OTHERS.
Feeling a sense of connection to people in your community can vastly improve your health. Some of the ways crochet can create a sense of connection include:
- The connection you feel to someone when you crochet an item specifically for them
- Connecting through crocheting in groups with others
- Connecting to other crocheters in an online community
- A general sense of being part of the whole when crafting for charity
- A feeling of connection to the generations that came before you as you carry on this craft
7. CROCHET IS TANGIBLE AND APPEALS TO MANY SENSES.
Crochet grounds you to the here and now. You can feel and touch it. You can shape it and see it grow. This can be amazingly healing in certain situations. For example, people who suffer from PTSD flashbacks can learn to reach for yarn and a hook to bring themselves back into the present. And people who struggle with hallucinations related to schizophrenia may find that crochet helps them to better distinguish between what is real and what is not.
8. BENEFITS OF VISUALIZING AND COMPLETING A PROJECT
Crochet teaches a really terrific skill which is the ability to visualize a project and then work on that project through to completion. This skill not only helps build the self-esteem but also helps train the mind to envision and create possibilities for the future. This is especially important in dealing with depression. Depression ekes away hope for the future. Learning to re-imagine the future and see that you can take steps to make something happen in the future is invaluable. It’s important to note here that many people with chronic physical health conditions also experience depression and hopelessness and this can assist them for the same reasons.
9. CROCHET MOVES THE BODY.
Sure, crochet isn’t going to get the blood pumping like cardio exercise, but every little bit of movement in our lives is better than not moving at all. You burn a few more calories crocheting through a movie than if you just sat there like a lump with your Netflix on. You can keep your hands active and limber and even stave off conditions like arthritis. It’s no small thing!
10. CROCHET IS A CREATIVE ACT OF SELF-EXPRESSION.
There are many reports and studies and books and even classes out there about why we need creativity in our lives. I don’t know exactly why being creative is such a healing force in humans but I do know that it is!