Those who know me, know I love knitting, I love to make many things actually, I am a bit of a craft addict if the truth be told.
Something amazing happens though when we use our hands to make something, we get the added bonus of a bit of neuroplasticity, our brains make new connections which are more positive, our thought processes change from negative to positive, we feel happier for doing it.
When we make or do something with our hands it releases something in our brains something referred to as ‘Behaviouralceuticals’. we get them when we knit when we sew, cook, bake, garden, make anything really, the opposite of sitting at a screen all day.
What we know now is that the repetitive behaviour that knitting engages us in releases Serotonin (the happy hormone) and as the person who is creating the item is often thinking of the person they’re making it for (or even imagining wearing it themselves) their Dopamine (the pleasure hormone) increases.
It’s interesting that around 100 years ago, Doctors even used to prescribe knitting to women who they’d describe as ‘overwrought with anxiety’ because they found it calmed their nerves.
Knitters, like many repetitive hobbies that use our hands, encourage us to focus on the finer details, like the stitches, rather than what is worrying us and this, in turn, helps to reduce the stress hormones such as Cortisol and Adrenaline.
Both Serotonin and Dopamine act as Neurotransmitters for mentally healthy behaviour, and what we know is that those who are experiencing low mood and anxiety don’t have much of these, they have an excess amount of the stress hormone, Cortisol instead.
And Cortisol has many side effects like negative thinking, poor sleep, encouraging us to reach for high-fat sugary foods, perhaps even alcohol.
So, if during Lockdown, you’re wondering what might be beneficial to take up, Knitting (or crochet!) may be an idea… but I warn you it is addictive, but that is probably the serotonin and dopamine effect!