6 Tips to Unlocking Happiness Through Knit & Crochet
Knitting and other repetitive craft activities have been proven to help people feel calmer, happier and less stressed. These wonderful effects are already a natural part of the crafts we love. So how can we possibly improve on this?
Sometimes, you just want to turn the TV on and keep your hands busy whilst your brain is busy with the program you’re watching, and that’s absolutely fine! In these cases, you’d usually pick a simple pattern that doesn’t need much concentration, and settle in for an evening of enjoyment.
However, our modern lives can be filled with hustle and bustle, and we’ll often multi-task like this to squeeze as many activities into our spare time as we can. I can’t tell you how often I’ve sat down for an evening of “relaxation” with my knitting, a book, iPad and sketch book, usually with the TV on in the background. Since it’s usually quite late before I even sit down, I rarely get much past checking my email or social media and watching odd snippets of whatever program my husband’s watching, and maybe knitting a few rows – which leaves me feeling restless and disappointed I didn’t achieve all I’d wanted to. Of course, I didn’t really give myself much chance, did I?!! I’d need hours to give so many activities a decent go, and social media (for me at least) can be a real time drain, where countless hours can be lost with very little to show for it.
If any part of this resonates with you, why not try a change of pace? After all, a change can be as good as a holiday! Try leaving the TV off, and set firm time frames for social media after which you set it aside for the night. Maybe put on some soothing music, and concentrate solely on your knitting or crochet for a while. This is a great time to choose a more challenging pattern than needs your full attention. Watch your hands as they craft each stitch, feel the yarn slide through your fingers, listen to the gentle click of the needles and revel in the pleasure of doing just this one thing in this moment.
If you’re used to multi-tasking, you may be surprised at how quickly your mind and body relax, how your breathing settles into a comfortable rhythm, and how much joy you can find in such simplicity. Alternatively, you may find yourself quickly tempted by the remote or other activities which would usually share your crafting time. That’s fine too; when two activities are so frequently paired, it’s hard to do one without the other calling! Even if you can only manage 5 minutes without distraction, over time you may discover you’re enjoying this quieter time more than the multi-tasking, and you’ll naturally want to continue for longer periods.
If you find you frequently make mistakes when crafting (unpicking stitches or living with unsightly errors), focusing solely on the present moment as you’re working can be helpful. When we multi-task, we tell ourselves we’re getting more done which will make us happier, but in reality we create unnecessary stress for ourselves, enjoy our pursuits less, and work much less efficiently.
So how can we go about bringing more happiness to our craft (or even to our daily lives in general)?
1. At least some of the time, turn off the TV and other distractions and just focus on the pleasure of your knitting or crochet. As time passes, you may find you’re enjoying your craft even more and begin to look forward to this peaceful time during your day.
2. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing – and you can do this not just whilst crafting, but during any daily task. For example, “I’m knitting this for my granddaughter. I’m making it with love, so it will warm both her mind and her body: what a wonderful gift!”, or “I’m crocheting this for the stall/for charity, so that the money raised can be put to good use”, or even, “I’m cleaning the floors so when my husband/children get home, they will have a clean, healthy environment to relax in and enjoy”. Consciously thinking about the reasons why we do something can help us feel more positive about even the most menial tasks, and also help us identify activities that take up a lot of our time without really benefiting us.
3. If you’re time poor and manage to make an opportunity to work your craft, be grateful for the time you spend on it. It’s all too easy to spoil the moment with feelings of guilt, telling yourself you should be doing something else. If you’ve chosen to take the time out to knit, give it your full attention, and enjoy every minute of it. Other chores can wait; for these few minutes you’re going to do something for yourself. When you return to your “To Do” list, you’ll feel refreshed and focused, and will ultimately become more productive - bringing a happier mindset with you when you do get back into it.
4. Be grateful too for the skills you’ve gained in your crafting. If you knit or crochet a lot, you may overlook how far you’ve come in your chosen craft, what an amazing achievement this is, and what it means you have to offer others. When we feel grateful it’s impossible to feel anything but happy (think about this next time you’re feeling grateful!). Remind yourself to feel grateful for the skills that allow you to craft beautiful handmade items for yourself, your family, friends or charity. You also have the opportunity to inspire gratitude in the receivers of your handiwork; so in additional to the physical gift, they receive the joy of gratitude too! Knowing you’ve helped someone and made them happy is a rich reward indeed, and a lovely bonus to our craft.
5. When crafting, “check in” with your body every few minutes. What is your posture like? Are you holding tension anywhere? Personally, I have a tendency to gradually tense my right shoulder as I’m knitting, leading to muscle soreness and even headaches after a long session. Bringing body awareness to your work and stretching at least every 20-30 minutes can help you to avoid those little niggles that make your craft more difficult and less pleasurable.
6. Just smile! Our minds have a tendency to focus on the negative, stressful and unpleasant more than the positive. If you find you’re getting lost in unpleasant memories or worries for the future whilst you’re crafting, take a few deep breaths, gently return your attention to your work, and bring a small smile to your face. Try thinking about the person who will wear your finished project, or recall why it is you’re making this item while you smile. Smiles can work both ways. We usually think of them as the end result of happy thoughts; but a smile can also put your mind on more positive track just by wearing it. Don’t take my word for it – give it a try yourself!
I hope these tips give you a few ideas on how you can unlock the potential for greater joy in your own knitting or crochet. Choosing just to knit or crochet - giving the experience your full attention - may seem natural to some, but for many of us the modern habit of multi-tasking is a difficult one to break. Bringing this ‘presence’ to crafting, and even extending it to other areas of your daily life, will help you bring more vitality and positivity to your day. This will leave you feeling both healthier - and happier!