A Harvard study suggested that “spending 20 minutes working with your hands soothes brain wave activity, reducing stress by 45 for two hours”; knitting was specifically mentioned. In the next month’s issue, in piece about Asians working with their hands well into their eighties and keeping mentally fit, the recommendation was to “spend some time every day knitting, crafting….” and “…the NIH says that anything that requires using your fingers increases brain mass and builds new neural pathways.”
The medical community is finally catching on.
When menopause came my way it did not come as expected. I didn’t have the “usual” onset problems. I started having dizzy spells, terrible anxiety attacks, panic, cold sweats. Twice I went to the hospital sure I was having a heart attack. I wasn’t. My dr. figured out that it was menopause and that I was having severe chemical imbalances. Knowing didn’t change the feelings though. I was jittery and afraid to go out (though a lovely little orange pill has helped immensely! <grins>). The emotional was not so easy to fix.
I spoke with my sister who had the same types of things happen to her with menopause. She found that doing word finds helped her. She carried a word find book all over with her just in case. She then found out that doing up close and personal things, like word finds, helped her to calm down and get past the attack.
I had just learned to knit less than a year before all this came on. I loved sitting and knitting, but didn’t realize it would save my life. Ok, well that’s how it felt to me at least. My sanity at the very least was saved. I would sit down and start knitting, my breathing calmed, I calmed, my hands stopped shaking, etc. I did more research and found out that what the medical community seems to be just figuring out, knitters knew all along. Doing activities up close, that require your hand/eye coordination to be close and focused, changes the chemical makeup in your brain. It actually sends out endorphins which are the feel good chemicals. Your brain says, ok if we are doing this then there is no need to be panicked so lets feel good doing it. Knitting, which I hadjust learned to do about a year before, became my sanity. When I started to get that fight or flight feeling, I would immediately sit down and start to knit and I would calm down. Though I am not having the panic attacks now, it still calms me down when I’m feeling that “itchy” antsy feeling inside.
The other thing I did was read up on menopause. I went past the usual “hot flashes” information. Had I known what I know now, I would have saved myself a lot of fear. I thought I had a brain tumor, or was losing my mind, or having heart attacks and yes, I was afraid to tell the dr. You know, if you don’t tell the dr. it isn’t really there? <rolls her eyes> Ladies, read up. There are soooo many more signs of menopause than just hot flashes and crankiness and every person is different and has different things happen to them.
Here’s hoping you all feel better today and yay knitting! 🙂