The break-up of a relationship takes a toll on you. Whether you are the breaker or the breakee, your life is suddenly turned upside down. You may be feeling lonely, anxious, even completely depressed. Fears surface, and it is sometimes difficult to soothe yourself. You try the Haagen Dazs cure, but that only works for a while before you feel worse. Binge watching Netflix original series only goes so far, too, and in the end you have nothing much to show for it. What you are trying to do is quiet your mind. You want to get rid of the endless loop where you wonder what happened, replay what happened, imagine another thing happening. You start thinking about what might—or might not—happen next. Daily tasks are suddenly horrendous challenges and you wonder how you’ll ever get through the work day, make dinner, or get through a conversation with the nosy neighbor.
Reaching out to friends is helpful and important, but there are times when even that is tough. Do you want to re-immerse yourself in your story… again? You may be worried that people don’t get it, or are wondering why you don’t snap out of it, or judging you. These things may or may not be true, but there has to be something else you can do, right?
Learn to knit. If you are not already a knitter, you may be thinking something self-deprecating like, “I’m all thumbs… that won’t work,” or disparaging like, “Knitting is for grandmas.” First of all, most of the grandmas I know are pretty hip, knitters or otherwise, and second of all, you’re wrong. Knitting is popular among all age groups (and men knit too!), so put your stereotypes to one side.
First, a little bit about flow. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first introduced this concept as the time when you are so absorbed in an activity that nothing else matters. He calls it the secret to happiness (and he can support that with tons of research). We all know happiness is a great cure for the blues. 🙂
If you’ve watched your child pitch a baseball game without seeming to twitch when the bases are loaded—he’s in the flow. If your sister never heard you or registered anything around her when she practiced her violin—she was in the flow. You’ve been there too. When you are cooking, re-painting the dining room, writing a blog, gardening…
The effects of flow are like those of meditation. And knitting is a premier, well-researched “flow activity” proven to be linked to overall health—mental, physical, and emotional.
Benefits of knitting:
- Reduction of anxious thoughts due to its repetitive, meditative, and creative quality.
- The “relaxation response” which, according to Harvard doctor Herbert Benson creates a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
- Decrease in both stress and depression.
- Improvements in cognitive functioning
Because knitting is a creative act, you access and strengthen that part of your brain as you enter “the flow” that knitting can induce. And that creativity provides you with a new focus and a sense of accomplishment that eating ice cream and binge-watching House of Cards will not.
In addition, there is a built-in community in the knitting world that is supportive and non-judgmental. You may be surprised to find that there is a knitting circle in your local area. Knitting is a great activity for people who don’t consider themselves ‘joiners’. You can still knit with others while choosing how much—or how little—to open up. The connection is in the doing.
Finding your way through a breakup is a process of re-definition. You really do have a lot to look forward to, but first you will want to learn how to deal with stress in a positive way, soothe your feelings, and reconnect with positive energy, activities, and thoughts. Knitting connects you with others across time and place. And the concept of “knitting through it” is a time-tested method for dealing with life’s passages with dignity and grace.
So consider it. Take up knitting—or pick it up again after a long time. You’ll find that it is a great strategy to regain your emotional balance after a break-up… or any time!
By Betty Russell, BCC and Jessica London Klemz, M.A.
Jessica London Klemz holds her MA in Communication Studies. As a scholar, writer, and public speaker, she’s found her passion in studying the cultural impact of knitting through ethnography and autoethnography. Klemz has published several articles about knitting in the Faroe Islands. She loves all things knitterly, and practices ‘knitting through it’ daily. She is the founder of dishyknits.com, a blog dedicated to meaningful discourse about knitting, crochet and fiber arts. Klemz is a founder of Close-Knit Guild For Fiber Arts Enthusiasts (Close-Knit Guild For Fiber Arts Enthusiasts, located in Northwest Indiana.