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Hello Idaho: Finding peace with knitting

The activity has been therapeutic for many people going through difficult times.

BOISE, Idaho — For this week's Hello Idaho, we're working with our hands. More and more science is showing that activities, like knitting and crocheting, have big benefits for your physical and mental health.

"My mom taught me," Oreesha Pringles said.

Pringles' love for knitting started early in life and the hobby came and went until recently.

"It's very therapeutic for me," Pringles said.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Pringles picked up knitting intentionally this time during infusion days. It became a meditative experience.

"Four months after I finished my treatment my husband passed away suddenly," Pringles said.

Pringles, who suffers from clinical depression, found that in some of life's toughest moments, knitting is what soothed her.

"I'm like, 'Wow, that lowered my heart rate.' So that was good. And I told my therapist, I told her what had happened, and she said, 'Oh, we want to keep doing that,'" Pringles said.

"Your brain is producing dopamine and serotonin when you do these activities," said Ellen Rubin, a trained immunologist and founder of the non-profit Therapeutic Crafters On-Call.

Rubin says there's a mind-body connection when you knit or crochet. It can relieve anxiety, pain, ease depression, and help anyone who's struggling with PTSD, trauma, drug or alcohol addiction, Alzheimer's and more.

"It also lowers levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It also lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate," Rubin said.

After losing her 27-year-old son, Kelly Rugan's struggle with complex grief and PTSD led her to start knitting.

"Very relaxing. And it takes me out of the place I don't want to be. For a while it's a good escape," Kelly Rugan said.

"Some people are process knitters. Other people are product knitters." Rubin said.

Rubin recommends starting small and remaining patient during the process, weaving joy, creativity and love into something special you can hold onto.

There are lots of knitting and crocheting circles in our area that you can join. Try searching for them on Meetup.com or check local Facebook groups.

Watch more 'Hello Idaho':

Watch our latest conversations about mental health in our YouTube playlist: