All you need is a hook and some colourful yarn to lose yourself in craft therapy and let the good vibes in. Yes, the familiar curve of the hook, the challenge of a new stitch, the rhythmic skills and repeating patterns created by crochet help to both relax you and encourage greater focus on the present, a vital element of mindfulness theory, which improves mental wellbeing.
But how exactly does crochet help with mental health?
Crafts which involve repetition like crochet are especially good for mindfulness as they help the brain to switch off. When crocheting, both your mind and body are focused on completing a single activity and this focus draws you into the present, the here and now, developing a state of inner calm.
According to a survey of over 3,500 knitters carried out by the Cardiff University with the help of Betsan Corkhill, author of ‘Crochet Therapy‘ and founder of Stitchlinks, an organisation which bring the therapeutic and wellbeing benefits of yarn-craft to as many people as possible: “the more frequently people are involved in knitting or crocheting, the calmer and happier they said they felt (81%)”.
For people who like to engage in groups, crocheting provides a social outlet, a critical element in maintaining mental health, and it allows for self-expression, charity and that sense of feeling productive, too. Look on Facebook for crochet groups you can join or find a crochet group in your area – chatting and making friends comes more easily when you have something to do with your hands.
Last but not least, the simple act of choosing colours and patterns can be a decision-making task that might be rewarding on a difficult day as well as having a go-to project might bring a sense of purpose and achievement.
Ways to Mindful Crochet
Anyone who’s ever tried to master a new stitch or work out which-granny-squares-should-go-where on a blanket will appreciate how crochet can totally engage your attention and harness your creativity. Being “in the moment” is an essential part of following a pattern, keeping your yarn on the hook, counting stitches and remembering which colour to use next.
To help you on your journey through mindfulness while you are crocheting, it’s important not only find somewhere comfortable to work but also, as your hands fall into the rhythm of your work, to be focused on your breath and the calmness of the moment.
As you work, notice the colours surrounding your stitches and how they are working alongside each other – writes Emma Leith, artist and designer in Mosaic and Crochet, in her book ‘Mindful Crochet: 35 Creative and Colorful Projects to Help You Be in the Moment, Relieve Stress, and Manage Pain‘.This will help you consider the next colour to use, whilst also giving you permission to play and experiment. It’s all about leaving your comfort zone and trying something new, about approaching things -colour in this instance- differently and seeing what emerges from your hook and life.
With the help of mindful remainders, tips and hints to put you on the right path as you work through the projects and breathing techniques, Emma Leith shows how crocheting can become a form of mindfulness practice, bringing you peace, calm and a greater sense of well-being. There are projects you can make for yourself or your home, and others designed to be given as gifts. The satisfaction you’ll get from creating these lovely makes and seeing others appreciate them is another important way in which crochet can encourage a positive outlook and bring happiness.