As someone who uses knitting helping myself keep calm and relax when I feel stressed I was interested to look into the concept of knitting as an aid to mental health. I discovered that as well as anecdotal experiences from many knitters there have been several scientific studies looking at the benefits of knitting.
Research at Harvard Medical School in2007 found that knitting can lower the heart rate, develop a feeling of calm and even lower blood pressure. It was also found that the repetitive action of knitting releases serotonin which can enhance mood and reduce pain. The act of knitting also helps distract the brain from chronic pain.
Further research focusing on the elderly, conducted by the MAYO clinic, found that knitting can help reduce memory loss and slow down cognitive impairment. As a social activity it helps to combat social isolation and loneliness with the formation of physical and online knitting communities.
In an era when so many people are struggling with mental health issues knitting and other repetitive crafts may provide part of the answer to reducing reliance on medication and reduce some of the pressures on an overburdened NHS.