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Menopause and Knitting

I’ve said I would post about this some time and today is some time.

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! 🙂


3 thoughts on “Menopause and Knitting

  1. Even though it’s been twenty years since my menopausal meltdown, I remember it like it was yesterday. Menopause is no fun – for anyone – even husbands who have to endure our swings in mood and interrupted sleep to change the drenched sheets. Oh how I remember that. Mine lasted about six months, and I was in the middle of raising a child so I didn’t have a minute to knit. I wish I could have.

    We live in a time when we have to consciously calm ourselves down – if we know anything about what is going on in the world – and knitting is a wonderful way to do it. Far better than pills. I, however, can’t knit worth a lick – which is not to say I don’t know the mechanics and have not attempted to complete a project about a million times – but have moved on to punch needle, stayed with sewing, and will continue to draw and paint forever.

    The best part of knitting is that you can do it alone, socially, while multi-tasking (listening to a book or watching TV), AND, at the end of the project you have something nice you can be proud of.

    Arts and crafts are the Prozac of the lucky! (my words) If everyone would try something (and I do know people who won’t) like knitting, or watercolors, or gardening – to name a few – there would be more happy people in this world. A lot more.

  2. I have CRPS (used to be called RSD) and knitting works better – for me, at least – than medications for pain management. It’s soothing, distracting, sends out those endorphins you mentioned and doesn’t have the nasty side effects that I get from most pain medications.
    Nothing takes away my pain completely, but given a choice between filling my body with chemicals that really mess me up – and still leave me with pain – or sitting down with two needles and some fiber and I’ll take the second choice every time!
    It’s also not a bad deal that I’m able to be productive and bless others with the outcome of all that knitting even in the midst of the worst pain! 🙂

  3. I don’t know what CRPS is, but it sounds really unpleasant. Sorry to hear you have that much pain, but glad you found something that helps, if in spirit only. Thanks for the pingback, too!

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