In this day and age, it can be hard to find something to do while our attention is half given to our precious screens, be they big or tiny. That's probably why knitting is becoming more and more popular. It's the thing to do while you're already doing something, and it can actually have mental health benefits.
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Most of the research surrounding yarncraft is based on surveying people who already do it. It'd be interesting to see what the results would be if you took people who initially hated the idea and got them to try it out. But even if it doesn't take, you could probably substitute it with some other handcraft that takes the same amount on mental energy and get the same benefits. I wouldn't mind making some chain mail while watching TV, but I'd also love the opportunity to knit some items with a Triforce or Protoss symbol on them.
But for the many knitters out there, it has been shown to increase calm and reduce negative thoughts. Knitters are more prepared for stressors when they come along. Even Russell Crowe uses it as an anger management technique.
Tasks that take a certain amount of brain energy can be somewhat meditative. Even washing the dishes can feel that way.
And hey, there's even an Australian group set up specifically to knit with other people and talk about mental health. That'd be a great place to get started. It's called Neural Knitworks, and people get all the normal benefits of knitting out of it (including cool stuff at the end), plus camaraderie.