Another ‘you read it here first’

Yet again, the BBC is just catching up with The Snail of Happiness:

Why the NHS could soon prescribe home improvements and knitting

I have been highlighting the benefits of creative crafts for ages now. Knitting and crochet, amongst other activities, generate alpha brainwaves, which are beneficial for learning, making connections and generating ideas. They are associated with “alert wakefulness”.

You are never alone with a knitted Knocker (or three)

You are never alone with a knitted Knocker

Crafting is also sociable, as evidenced by the profusion of ‘knit and natter’ or ‘stitch and bitch’ events springing up. My version was ‘cake and craft‘ (because being alert certainly enhances cake-enjoyment!) and mighty successful it was too for the year that I ran it. And even if you can’t physically get to a meeting, there are lots of sociable groups on-line… including a closed Facebook group for all the ladies knitting knockers. Social interaction involving creativity has real health benefits – both mental (mentioned in the BBC article) and physical (it has been shown to help relieve pain, for examples see this document).

If you want to know more about the subject, I suggest you check out the Stitcklinks website, which contains all sorts of fascinating information about therapeutic knitting, including references to academic papers, case studies and resources for setting up groups.

 

Say a little prayer, or not

Sissie in her blankie in the garden at High Bank

Sissie’s blankie was described in the pattern as a ‘prayer blanket’

Recently, I have come across numerous patterns for prayer shawls and prayer blankets and I was beginning  to wonder whether the knitting and crochet community was undergoing some great religious revival. However, the other day I discovered that these are not shawls to pray in (like a Jewish Tallith) nor blankets to kneel on whilst doing so (like hassocks), but creations that include simple repetitive patterns. The idea is that the shawl can be made whilst praying because there is no need to concentrate too much on the pattern, so one’s mind can be occupied by something else.

inner-peace-awardIt was quite a coincidence, therefore, when a few days back Megan (my chronic life journey) nominated me for the ‘Inner Peace Award’ and got me thinking about the whole idea. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a great fan of the chain letter type blogging award, but this one doesn’t really involve that aspect and did start me considering the importance of things like prayer shawls. Even if we do lead a stressful life, finding time to create something simple and beautiful (like Sissie’s blankie in the photo) can really help us to achieve a little inner peace. I have written before about crafting and mental well-being – the fact that repetitive activities, like knitting, crochet and wet felting, can increase alpha waves in our brains and encourage creative thought and relaxation. As a person who has the propensity to get very uptight I can highly recommend this approach to achieving a happier life and as a way to develop a calmer and more positive state.

Other people, of course, seek peace in different ways. Recent research has demonstrated the value to our health of visiting natural places or simply being outdoors. There is also clear evidence that walking can be a useful tool in treating depression. Whatever we choose to do, it seems that our mental state can be improved by participating in the right activities.

As I explore the blogosphere, I come across all sorts of approaches to peace and happiness and I want to share one in particular with you. I found Candy Blackman’s blog London Life with Bradshaw’s Handbook quite recently. You may be wondering what this has to do with inner peace, but if you read this post, you will find out. Candy is exploring London using Bradshaw’s 1862 Hand Book to London as a way to deal with her grief following the loss of her mother. One day a week she visits London, following Bradshaw’s guide and she blogs about it. It’s lovely – great pictures, fascinating links, a whole new (old?) perspective on London. She says that she hasn’t found a direction yet or arrived anywhere, but clearly the pure act of doing something is helping her… and providing those of us who follow her blog with fascinating information.

So, if you are feeling blue or stressed – put on your walking shoes or pick up your knitting needles and see if you can’t achieve a little inner peace.

Splish-splash

Soaking my cares away

Soaking my cares away

I  wrote quite a bit earlier in the year about water-saving, mainly because we had managed to reduce our consumption (and therefore our bill) by so much. However, I have to confess that I do like a soak in the bath sometimes. It’s not all about getting clean – I much prefer a shower for that – it’s about relaxation. Having a shower tends to be invigorating, but having a bath leaves me feeling warm and comfortable – just ready to curl up with a mug of tea and a good book. So, how do I square the two?

Well, sometimes it seems important to care for yourself… your own mental and physical well-being. So, just as knitting has been linked to mental well-being and can have more positive effects than anti-depressants (1), I’m pretty convinced that having a bath can improve my mental and physical state. And that’s why it is sometimes the right thing to do.

However, keeping in mind sustainability, I want to get the most out of the resources that I do use. Someone suggested to me a few weeks ago that we should try to make use of every resource for at least three functions. With the bath water, the three would be: cleaning me; improving my mental state; watering plants/flushing the toilet; and occasionally a fourth function of cleaning the dogs.

So, this afternoon, having spent a chunk of the day wrestling (unsuccessfully) with technology, I had a bath. And now I’m going to start knitting another snail… no wonder I’m feeling relaxed.

-oOo-

(1) Riley J, Corkhill B, Morris C (2013) The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood: Findings from an International Survey. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(2), 50-57

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