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The calming influence of crochet: How ASU students find relief from stress in the craft

Discovering the serenity and unleashing creativity through the art of crocheting, finding inner peace in every stitch

Spools of yarn are pictured at Phoenix Knits on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023 in Phoenix.

In the midst of demanding coursework and bustling campus life, a growing number of students are finding solace in an unexpected hobby: crochet

This craft, often associated with grandmothers and vintage dolls, has become a powerful tool for stress relief and self-care for many young adults. 

Emerging research suggests that creative hobbies may protect against cognitive decline as individuals age, as they engage multiple areas of the brain. These findings highlight the multifaceted benefits of crafting, making it a valuable and enjoyable activity for individuals, including ASU students, seeking mental well-being and cognitive vitality.

Mackenzie Milczarek, a junior studying mechanical engineering experiences some of the benefits of crocheting.

"It helps me pace myself, so in between my homework, I can take a break and crochet a row or two," Milczarek said.

This sentiment is echoed by fellow students who have discovered the meditative benefits of the craft.

Lian Salah, a junior studying industrial engineering said she traces her crocheting journey back to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"My motivation would often revolve around crocheting or completing a row or two of my project after finishing an assignment," Salah said.

Since 2020, Salah's connection to crochet has strongly influenced her daily routine.

"Crocheting is something that I can do to feel proud of myself," freshman biomedical engineering major Rimeh Samara said. "It's very therapeutic as well.”

Taylor Hendricks, a junior majoring in digital marketing, finds that crocheting offers her a unique form of self-care and personal time. She said crochet has even also evolved into a creative outlet, allowing her to craft unique pieces for concerts and events.

"It gives me an excuse to stay in my room and do my own thing, which I forget to do a lot," Hendricks said. "Having a project that's kind of labor-intensive and takes a lot of time was giving me an excuse to sit on my couch and watch TV. It was definitely beneficial for my mental health."

All four students emphasize the patience and focus that crocheting demands. However, the focus required has a soothing influence on those who practice it.

"It can be something that would calm you down in situations that are very frustrating," Samara said. "I just... crochet and think about [my situation], go over it again, be calm about it, then get another approach. 

Crocheting has therapeutic benefits that can help individuals cope with stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Engaging in these creative activities can induce a state of "flow," according to research done by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Crafting also triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, which enhances mood. 

"It helped me a lot with ADHD," Samara said. "My thoughts tend to be really scattered, and I have been through a lot of stressful situations in my life."

As the trend gains momentum, crocheting is not only serving as a personal outlet for these students but also becoming a shared experience.

"I've started to notice that so many people around campus are wearing things that are made out of crochet," Salah said. 

Crochet allows students to slow down, focus their minds and create something tangible in a fast-paced academic environment. 

Edited by Claire van Doren, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan

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