Happiness: One ball of yarn at a time

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As stress takes its toll on many people, knitting frequently comes up as a plus in scientific studies about reducing the effects of anxiety.

“Statistics show that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary-care doctors are related to stress,” said Lisa Diamond, RN, MSN, and health/wellness coach who practices at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital Medical Clinic. This month, Oct. 29, Diamond launches her Happiness Knitting Project in Woodland Park. “In this era of wellness and prevention we need to look at how we can keep people well to begin with,” Diamond said. “Sixty percent of all illnesses are related to stress.”

With stress, the immune system is reduced, she added.

To back up her project, “Spreading Happiness, Reducing Stress, 1 Ball of Yarn at a Time,” Diamond cites a study of 5,000 people in countries around the world.

The study found that knitting reduces anxiety, depression and chronic pain and is effective for patients in drug and alcohol rehabilitation and for smoking cessation. The study results were published in a medical journal in the United Kingdom.

“It was awesome to see in scientific literature what I already knew, that knitting is stress-reducing,” Diamond said.

The study proved scientists’ hypothesis that because knitting uses both hands, it crosses both sides of the brain. “Knitting reduces the serotonin level which is one of the hormone levels that is calming and reduces depression,” she said. “The textures, the colors of the yarn are very soothing.”

Knitting is affordable, portable and can be done on the quick. “And anybody over the age of 5 can probably learn to do it,” she said.

With all the scientific background, knitting today is no longer the province of grandmothers in rocking chairs. “Knitting is making a comeback, especially in the 20 to 30 age group,” she said.

In fact, international yarn-bombing projects are the latest in fads, with subjects such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and city buses in Washington D.C. “It’s urban public art,” she said.

Diamond launches her Happiness Project from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29 on the lower level of the Woodland Park library.

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