As most of you know anxiety and panic disorder has always been an element of my life which I have struggled with. I talk openly both on this blog and on my social media channels, as I want to lessen the stigma and open up a conversation about the struggles we go through every single day. Life isn’t an Instagram perfect filter, and life is raw, challenging and difficult at times. Check out my other articles on managing anxiety for tips, advice and my own personal experience.
When I go through stages of my life, where my anxiety is worse I am constantly looking for ways to help manage my physical and mental responses to these challenging times and often I will take up a hobby or skill which can both distract my mind from those anxious thoughts, but also provide me with a enjoyable activity. After a stressful few months with work, studying and the blog, I noticed a change in my mental health and was catapulted back in to my panic disorder when I had a panic attack on route to London. It reminded me I needed to slow down, and told me that my body was not coping. With this information I slowed down, started sleeping more, exercising and….. I took up knitting!!!!
Research has proven that knitting won’t just result in a new sweater but that it can also reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, and distract from chronic pain. The research suggested that the brain can only process so much at once, and that activities like knitting and crocheting make it harder for the brain to register pain signals or negative thoughts when distracted. And research has also suggested knitting is just as relaxing as yoga!
The Knit For Peace research showed that 70 per cent of knitters reported that knitting improved their health. Plus, 82 per cent said the craft made them relax, 65 per cent reported knitting for others made them feel useful, and 92 per cent found knitting boosted their mood. Members knitted for an average of 13.5 hours a week — some reported they knit 35 hours a week, the study noted. And the repetitive movement of knitting increased the knitter’s mood and dulled their pain by releasing calming serotonin, the Telegraph has also reported.
After reading all this research, I just knew I had to give it a try and the results were incredible. Not only did I end up with a beautiful blanket at the end of it, I was calmer, spending more time away from social media, I felt accomplished and I was finding moments of being still relaxing, not awkward. I chose to introduce myself to the world of knitting through the wonderful company that is We Are Knitters. They gather the concept of DIY and fashion together, and have modernised the hobby, by having creatively thought out designs, bright colours, high-quality and 100 natural yarn from Peru and inspiring patterns.
Another aspect that is very important for We Are Knitters is the planet and their wool come from sheep that live freely in the mountains of Peru and kept by their shepherd. They are shaved only when they need to, and in respect of their skin. No harm is done to the animals throughout the entire process!
The kits are designed so that every skill levels can complete the kit – from super beginners to advanced level – following directions and online tutorials as necessary and resulting in a final knitwear product that is unique and your ¨own¨. As a first time knitter I opted for a beginner’s pack called The Kilim Blanket.
I opted for The Kilim Blanket as I love a great blanket and my whole house is furnished in all types of textures and colours, so I was super excited to be able to create my own for my home. The beginners kit included 4 skeins of petite wool (natural), 2 skeins of petite wool (grey) and 1 skein of petite wool (black), 8mm wooden knitting needles, a pattern to follow, sewing needles and an embroidered label for when you finish.
I began at the beginning on April and the blanket took me around 4 weeks to complete, as I did various sections in stages and only worked on the blanket around twice a week, around work, studying and the blog. Over the 4 weeks I found myself waiting to get home and complete another section of my blanket, I found myself doing it in front of the television in the evenings, and even taking it down to the garden on a weekend to sit in the sun and get it finished.
At the end of the four weeks, I was more confident, calmer and felt like I had accomplished a great achievement. And best of all, I could snuggle up on the sofa with my blanket feeling all cosy inside, knowing due to my hard work and effort I had knitted my own blanket.
*This is a campaign with We Are Knitters.
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