By Annette Pinder

Activities like meditation and yoga are helpful to many in times of stress, anxiety, or pain. According to Mental Health America, knitting is another way to experience many of these benefits. Knitting has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, slow onset of dementia, distract from chronic pain, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and increase a person’s sense of wellbeing.

Recent research reveals what many knitters already know —that knitting is calming helps relieve stress. One international survey found a direct link to knitting and feelings of happiness. Many have found that knitting helps keep them connected socially through local knitting groups or online communities. In a clinical setting, one group of individuals with eating disorders revealed that knitting had a significant effect on reducing anxiety and calming obsessive thoughts or preoccupations. Another study found that knitting offered physical relief and social support resulting in reduced feelings of chronic pain.

Knitting also provides a way to give back through knitting for charity, which further supports mental health and relieves feelings of isolation. Knitting is just plain good for people. It gives our hands something to do and provides us with a cherished creation to wear, display, or to share. Beware though, at least for me, knitting can become addictive because it is so much fun.

Some great books to check out are the Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting by Ella Austin, Coffeehouse Knits by Kerry Bogert, and Knitted Animal Friends by Louise Crowther, and the Art of Circular Yokes by Kerry Bogart. Locally, check out www.buffaloknittingguild.comfor local resources, events, and more.