Top 10 Reasons Crochet Can Help You Heal

This post is part of a ten day series of posts on the healing benefits of crochet that I’m doing to celebrate the release of my new book, Crochet Saved My Life.

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 (which I mentioned earlier today in my article about the benefits of crochet for pregnancy problems) 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!

 

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Kathryn

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

24 Comments:

  1. This is amazing and really interesting. I suffer from chronic depression but have been crocheting for nearly three years again after an embarrassingly loooong break. For the past year, let’s say, I’ve noticed that my mood is better – I have to do score sheets for my doctor, scoring my mood and they’ve been in the low numbers for a while now (which is good). So obviously, I picked up on its natural antidepressant qualities!

    Also I have hypermobility syndrome (sorry, I sound like a right whiner! But it is related to the post?), and am interested to see that crochet can lessen pain, since part of the syndrome is pain in the joints. So I will have to try to notice next time I am crocheting if the pain recedes (it should, and probably has, but I’ve never known about that, so never known to look for it).

    • @rootsandbones I’m sorry to hear that you struggle with depression. I know all too well that it’s a difficult, often unrelenting thing, but am so glad to hear that crochet seems to be playing a role in helping you!

      I’d love to hear what you discover as you pay more attention to the role that crochet can play in reducing pain. In my research I frequently read about people who were using it as a type of natural painkiller. I haven’t seen anyone mention it specifically for hypermobility syndrome but I’ve seen it mentioned as helpful for people with arthritis and other joint conditions. Of course, there’s a flip side, and that’s that it can aggravate the finger joints if you work too tightly or with smaller hooks, etc. Do you use ergonomic hooks when you crochet?

      • @CrochetBlogger I will keep note and let you know!

        I don’t use ergonomic hooks, actually. I have heard they’re good for reducing pain, though. I used to crochet very tightly when I was a teenager, but now I work quite loosely, so that doesn’t seem to occur *touches wood*

        • @rootsandbones I haven’t tried too many ergonomic hooks myself. I seem to be stuck on Boye aluminum hooks and never like anything else. But I’ve heard good things about the use of the right hooks if you ever have hand pain.

  2. Congratulations Kathryn on another incredible blog post! I can relate to every one of your BIG 10 but I didn’t truly understand how crochet was helping me- I didn’t connect the dots like you’ve done so beautifully. All I knew was that something deep inside drove me to want to crochet when I was in pain, going through depression or avoiding the desire to use drugs to block the pain and depression.
    I also knew it almost always lifts my mood to communicate with other crocheters online but I really didn’t dig much deeper into my thought process.
    And yes to boosting self-esteem and every other item on the rest of your list!
    As they say-“the unexamined life is not worth living” and you are helping us towards that noble end. I’m sure you are touching many lives in ways you may never know. God bless you Kathryn.

    • @Sacredcrocheter Thank you for your kind comment! I didn’t realize how crochet was helping me at first either but then I started this blog and the more I wrote about crochet, the more I thought about it, and all of the connections came into place. :)

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  5. I cannot but agree with you, as though diagnosed late in life, I knew something was not “right”. I was too” sensitive” I do not “play nice with others, etc. A single mother by choice, when my daughter left for her studies, my world crashed around me. Unable to pick up the pieces, a friend and co-worker introduced me to crochet. My first winter , I made what I call the “never-ending blanket” (it’s lopsided, too long and has other faults). I keep saying I’ll re-do it , but it is a reminder of how I was saved by a hook. Though this friend left the country, I can never forget how she saved me through crochet. My only regret is that I did not know how to do this before.( so much time wasted and so many things to create! )SO thank you Kate (you know who you are) and crochet and to all those that helped on the “net”. And to all those dealing with hardships- try it, you never know how much seeing something you created can change your outlook. May the angles watch over you all. Thank you

    • I think sometimes the thing that is wonderful about handmade pieces is that they show us how we survived, imperfections and all! I’m so glad you found strength in this craft. Do what Kate did and pay it forward by introducing someone else to it when they need it!!

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  7. I was hospitalized with severe depression in 1999. When I got out 10 days later, I decided to crochet a cardigan just to keep my mind busy. I still have the cardi. It’s a little beat up now because one of my cats (the late lamented Xena) used it as a bed during the last couple of years of her life. So it’s doubly special to me as one of the things which helped me get out of the hole I was in back in 1999 and one of the comforts for my beloved cat’s life.

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  13. Ir never occurred to me that crochet could help with depression. What a great, easy and cheap way to deal with this condition. I’m going to try the mindful crochet instead of hurrying to see the finished product.

  14. I’ve been crocheting for about three years now. Self thought from youtube videos. I also have been going thru depression for several years. Children leaving the home (big one) menapause, (another big one). Anyway, I have a love hate relationship with crochet. I struggle with learning things. I have to visually see it being done most of the time, or I am trowing it across the room. We have been tearing our house apart painting and other things trying to get it ready to sell so we can down size. This has been a long process, which has taking its toll on my depression going backwords in the healing process. I put all my yarn away to protect it from the dreaded dust! I pulled it out the other day, and i’m having a hard time getting back into the pleasure of it. I watch videos still, but I need to get the hook back in the hand. I do have a real problem with tendinidus (thumb especally) I don’t want to give up on this, so send me some good vibes my way everyone!!

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