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Fiber health benefits, not all from diet

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By Diane Larson
ButteNews.net

Crochet

 

By Diane Larson
ButteNews.net

 

The fiber arts can bring emotional peace.

 

“Studies have shown that expressing themselves through art can help people with depression, anxiety, or cancer, too. And doing so has been linked to improved memory, reasoning, and resilience in healthy people,” courtesy of Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

 

This includes the fiber arts, crochet, knitting, embroidery, weaving and more.

 

People who have worked in the fiber arts have known for years the relaxation benefits alone from crocheting and knitting. Recent studies show that the benefits go further.

 

“Neuroscientists are beginning to see how studies on cognitive activities such as doing crossword puzzles might also apply to someone who does complex quilting patterns. Others are drawing connections between the mental health benefits of meditation and the Zen reached while painting and sculpting,” according to CNN Health.

 

Some studies show that the same benefits happen while crocheting and knitting, using complex patterns. The benefits from fiber arts such as crochet or knit “range from simply calming you down and easing your stress to potentially relieving depression and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” according to allfreecrochet.com. The Craft yarn Council and All Free Crochet have partnered to create an educational website called Stitch away Stress dealing with this subject matter.

 

Stitch Away Stress uses mindfulness and crochet to obtain, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”


 

According to a story on CNN Health, Sarah Huerta suffered a tragedy in 2004 that would hit her so hard she would be left almost paralyzed with fear. In 2004 her brother died, and his body was found in a car.

 

Her anxiety was elevated, she could not leave the house without suffering a panic attack, and she couldn’t hold down a job, and the worst part, she hated getting in cars. The pain continued for Sarah, “every time she stepped outside, she felt disaster closing in,” said cnn.com.

 

Sarah’s physician diagnosed her with post traumatic stress. Her husband’s answer, he gave her a set of knitting needles.

 

“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping,” an unknown author wrote.

 

Sarah began her journey with knitting and her hands, hands that she could previously not keep still. Soon they knitting and purling the hours away.

 

In the CNN article Jacque Wilson explains, “crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say it may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging.”

 

The tactile-ness of the fibers, the creativeness of expression, the concentration on complicated patterns, and the sense of accomplishment all play a role in the benefits gleaned working in the fiber arts.

 

Sarah still knits today, and she still finds the activity beneficial and “finds she can lose herself for hours in a tricky pattern,” said CNN Health.

 

 

The phenomenon of ‘losing yourself’ is described as ‘flow’ by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl. He defines it as a few moments in time when you are so completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter. According to Csikszentmihalyl, “Flow is the secret to happiness.”

 

In a TED talk he explained it like this, “Our nervous system is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at a time. That’s why you can’t listen and understand two people who are talking to you at once. So, when someone starts creating, his existence outside that activity becomes “temporarily suspended. He doesn’t have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can’t feel if he’s hungry or tired. His body disappears,” said Csikszentmihalyl.

 

Author Kathryn Vercillo says that, “knitting and crochet are often mentioned as key tools in self-care for people dealing with a range of psychological issues. The two most common conditions treated with crafting are anxiety and depression.” The benefits of reducing restless thoughts and soothing the panic of anxiety are gleaned from the focus and relaxation to regulate breathing.

 

Kathryn explains that people who suffer with depression experience ‘rumination of the mind’ where the depressed mind dwells on negative thoughts. Crochet and knitting help by interrupting the ruminating and by breaking that cycle help lift the mood. The end products created in crochet or knit give a feeling of productivity and accomplishment.

 

Some of the other benefits of crochet and knitting include; the person who suffers from OCD can experience interruption in their cycles, so they don’t feel the compulsions, persons suffering with grief find relief, and also persons suffering from chronic pain. “Knit for Peace conducted a comprehensive study that found knitting to engage the mind, body and emotions in a way that distracts from pain, while also benefitting the physical body relaxation.

 

These benefits mentioned here are by no means cures for these issues; they are, however, tools to use that have astonishing benefits.

 

Salena Baca is the founder of the American Crochet Association. She talks about how crochet helped her through some troubling times early in life. “When I was young, we moved around a lot. I was kind of bullied as a kid. I was picked on and I never really felt like I fit in. There were some traumatic things that happened in my life, and our family place growing up.” She goes on to explain that she grew up kind of poor and in an area where there wasn’t much of anything including other children. So, crochet became something that she could do and something she could play with that would occupy her time and engage her mind. By this time Salena had been crocheting since she was five years old.

 

Salena said that crochet was also “really very meditative for me to where if, I was sad or upset, or if I felt like I was lost, it was something that I could do. I felt like I was accomplishing something.” Crochet “was something that I could do that made me feel like I had value and I could create something that was valuable,” explained Salena.

 

These benefits extended to her own self worth and individuality. “And so, it also kind of became like part of my identity. I felt like if I could make something that was beautiful and useful, that was a reflection of me, you know, if I could make something that was complimented, it was like I was getting a compliment,” said Salena.

 

“Crochet is a beautiful space. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. I think that it really fills a lot of needs for people. I believe that we’re social creatures, but sometimes that just means having a good relationship with yourself and being kind to yourself. I think crochet can give you some things that help you unpack any kind of feelings you’re having,” said Salena.

 

Salena still crochets today and has taken this “hobby” that she began at the age of five and turned it into an amazing business educating people all over the world on all aspects of crochet. Her American Crochet Association (ACA) teaches its members everything from what yarn and crochet hooks are to, how to crochet, read patterns, write patterns and how to teach someone else how to crochet.

 

The courses are very detailed and specific. Just to give you an idea of the what courses are available, there are: Assess and Build Skills, Pattern Writing Training, Yarn, Sizing and Pattern Reading, to name a few. Each of these includes a teaching video with accompanying handout of pertinent information, and at the end of each there is a small quiz and once that is passed you received a certificate. Once the courses are completed the student is in possession of the equivalent of an associate degree in crochet. If interested in crochet, you can find more information at https://www.americancrochetassociation.com/. Salena and the ACA can also be found on most social media.

 

Amanda Woodbury, owner of Unravel Your Stress, has been crocheting for about six years, and teaching crochet and mindset crochet since 2018.

 

“When I started teaching [crochet], I had noticed I was seeing my own personal benefits. My confidence was rising. My self esteem was rising. I was feeling more confident as a business owner, and as a mom, and as a wife, because I was crocheting,” explained Amanda

 

Amanda explained that “when she began to teach, she discovered that she really wanted to reach out to women who were stressed and were frustrated with the way their lives were going.” Crochet is something that can help a person achieve goals and give them a feeling of accomplishment. The benefits that Amanda was personally able to garner from crochet gave her a new outlook on life and she wanted to share that with others.

 

Mindset coaching naturally grew out of Amanda’s style of teaching and what she had learned about herself during this process. As she began her teaching, she heard herself asking “how does this make you feel, what have you learned about yourself,”? Once she noticed her style of teaching was leaning in the mindset direction, she began to do some research on mindset and what she learned made her realize that crochet and mindset are a perfect match.

 

“I worked with Amanda in 2018 while I was in the middle of one of the biggest funks of my life. OCD, depression, and anxiety were ruling my life and I was struggling with dark thoughts. I decided to give crochet a go and it was my saving grace. When I was in my darkest moments, I would tell myself, ‘I might be struggling to get through the day but I can get through this row,’ and I’d get through the next row and the next. I crafted more than I had my entire life. Then one day I woke up and I didn’t need to crochet to get through the day, I could crochet to decompress, or to gift to those I loved or to clear my mind. One thing for sure, I would not be where I am If I hadn’t hired Amanda,” Beth Griffith said.

 

Amanda teaches people from all over, and just about all of her teaching occurs online. Her website is https://unravelyourstress.com/. Amanda can also be found on most social media.

 

“Fiber art is in a lane of its own. The materials and manual labor of the artist become part of a work’s significance,” Zoe Yarborough, said.

 

 

 

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