I have a problem. I realised a long time ago that while watching the TV to relax in the evening, I would also be on my phone. I couldn’t seem to stop. If I tried to put my phone away, my eyes darted around and I couldn’t seem to focus or settle. It was as though my brain needed two things to be happening to feel satisfied. I’ve seen those memes that describe being a woman as having 12,000 tabs open in our brains, and I think its true!
The trouble is, if my brain needs this split stimulus, it means I’m having trouble being in the moment. It means I have trouble relaxing and just focussing on one thing. It also means I was never truly de-compressing my brain and was staying wired right up until I was supposed to be sleeping (and guess how that was going?)
Well, I thought, if my brain needs more things, clearly social media or word games is not a healthy thing to occupy it with while I watch Masterchef. So I taught myself to knit. During the school holidays, I watched YouTube videos to learn how to cast on and all that jazz. Then I set about knitting squares to get into the swing of things.
Thankfully, My Mate Kathryn saved me from myself. She can actually knit. She set me up with a pattern for a snazzy blanket, showed me where to get good wool and taught me how to do it.
What a revelation. There’ve been several benefits I just wasn’t expecting. First, it has helped me to stop the split focus thing. With my hands and part of my brain occupied in the task of knitting, it helps trick my brain into thinking it has tabs open. But because its a repetitive task, I don’t have to think about it too much so I can focus on the moment far better.
Also, exactly because it is repetitive, it helps me to relax. And, I’ve learned a new task (I know! At my age!!) – and I’m gradually getting better with practice so there’s a sense of accomplishment. Add to that the fact that I’m creating something and there is an immense satisfaction.
I decided to knit a blanket for each of my kids. It makes me happy thinking I’m creating something for them. It’ll be (hopefully) they keep and cherish.
It’s no surprise of course. Knitting is used as therapy for lots of conditions like anxiety, depression, stress, even chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because it is calm and repetitive, it is almost meditative (which is why it works so well as a therapeutic activity). I used to support the local women’s domestic violence refuge via our church ministry and they used to have knitting groups for just that kind of purpose.
It’s also not just women who are doing it now too – even guys are getting in on it, because it is so good for mental health! You can even double down and make blankets and beanies for people in need which just enriches the mental health benefits and makes the world a bit better as well.
The best thing is that every so often, me and My Mate Kathryn and My Mate Meredith will have a knitter-natter – an old school get together to chat and laugh and and share while we knit. And there is nothing better than sharing all this with friends.
Give it a go. I highly recommend it (although I have a no-shares-sies policy on Kathryn and Meredith).