The Craft Yarn Council reports that a third of women ages 25 to 35 now knit or crochet...Last April, the council created a “Stitch Away Stress” campaign in honor of National Stress Awareness Month. Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind/body medicine and author of “The Relaxation Response,” says that the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol.In other words, it is not just your mental health that is beneficially influenced (which has always been my wife's perspective), but your physical health as well.
Perhaps most exciting is research that suggests that crafts like knitting and crocheting may help to stave off a decline in brain function with age. In a 2011 study, researchers led by Dr. Yonas E. Geda, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., interviewed a random sample of 1,321 people ages 70 to 89, most of whom were cognitively normal, about the cognitive activities they engaged in late in life. The study, published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, found that those who engaged in crafts like knitting and crocheting had a diminished chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.The older you get, the more you think about these things. The younger you are when you make the adjustments, the better off you are likely to be in the long run. I published a book on aging more than three decades ago, with major contributions from my wife, and the lessons we learned from writing that book (along with other aging-related research in which we were both involved) has helped us cope more successfully with the aging process. For my wife, in particular, knitting has been a part of that. You should try it. You have nothing to lose but your stress.