Knitting your way to a healthier, happier mind


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Authors: Ian Hickie and Jackie Randles

Ian Hickie is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow. His work has been funded by a variety of research councils, philanthropic support and investigator-led research studies funded by the pharmaceutical companies. He is Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute (BMRI), University of Sydney. The BMRI operates two Headspace Centres in Central Sydney and Campbelltown, NSW and is a member of the Young and Well CRC. He is also a Commissioner in the Australian National Mental Health Commission. He is also Patron of Neural Knitworks.

Jackie Randles is the Manager of Inspiring Australia at University of Sydney, a founding partner of this project.

What do knitting and neuroscience have in common? Most people would say not a lot – one activity involves yarn and knitting needles and the other studying the body’s nervous system. But research shows knitting and yarn craft, like other meditative activities, can “activate areas of the brain that are good for generating a sense of calm, (and contribute to) improved emotional processing and better decision making”.

A recent study conducted out of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom also found knitting has significant psychological and social benefits. In a survey of 3,545 knitters worldwide, respondents who knitted for relaxation, stress relief and creativity reported higher cognitive functioning, improved social contact and communication with others.

In short, knitting made them happier. And warmer – nothing beats the winter chills as well as a homemade jumper or scarf.
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