Before I joined the profession of healthcare in 2016, I described myself as a mostly blissful person. I had my bad days like anyone, but it was easy to find the best in any situation and I was mostly living happily ever after.
I started most days knitting with a cup of coffee and listening to some uplifting audio by Abraham Hicks or Eckhart Tolle. I exercised five or six days per week and I cooked the majority of my meals at home with whole food ingredients. It was easy to enjoy a low stress existence.
The portrait on the right was taken in 2014, approximately one and a half years prior to entering the healthcare field. I can see how relaxed I am. Those eyes had mostly healed from childhood trauma and had not seen anything truly horrific in many years. My existence was peaceful, and it showed.
I can reflect fondly on this time in my life and appreciate the experience, while also recognizing it was about to be time to spread my wings and tackle something new. I am eternally grateful for all the self care skills I learned. They have allowed me to not only survive, but thrive as an Emergency Nurse!
Post Healthcare Me
I took the photo on the left just before a night shift during my first travel contract as an ER nurse. I personally think I still look vibrant and full of life, but there is a harder edge. My face now represents a person who sees horrific things weekly. I am an INFP, I feel deeply and care deeply.
I still sometimes wonder why I chose the ER, but I do love many things about my job. I love the excitement and challenge of assessing a person and reacting immediately to keep them alive. I love supporting people on their hardest day. I love the skills I get to master and perform when they are needed quickly to care for an injured or ill person. But it does take its toll. Again, the person in the photo on the left is grateful for the person above on the right. I employ all I learned in the past to care for myself today.
The Benefits of Knitting for ER Nurses
Knitting is a calming, repetitive activity that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. The gentle clicking of the needles, the soft feel of the yarn, and the rhythm of the stitches all work together to create a sense of relaxation and focus. In fact, there are numerous studies that demonstrate knitting can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels – all indicators of stress reduction. Add your favorite nature documentary, self help or spiritual teachings, or background music to the mix and magic happens.
Additionally, knitting allows you to express your creativity and make something tangible with your own two hands. This sense of accomplishment and satisfaction can boost your mood and help you feel more connected to the world around you. You can choose to knit something for yourself or for someone else, and the act of giving a handmade gift can be incredibly rewarding.
The Hudson Hat is my most popular design. It is fun and quick to knit, and makes a wonderful gift. I cannot count the number of them I have knit since it was designed in 2007. I still enjoy knitting them. I will be casting one on soon so that I can recreate the tutorials for making and attaching the tassels (the most challenging parts of the design!)
Knitting as a Social Activity
Knitting can also be a social activity. You can join a local knitting group or connect with other nurses who also knit. Sharing your passion with others can help you feel less isolated and more supported. You may even find that knitting with others helps you process some of the difficult situations you encounter at work.
If you are an introvert like me, carrying knitting to a social gathering you feel reluctant to attend can help reduce stress and help strike up conversations with people. Even wearing something you have made can make you easy to spot by another knitter. I have had some fun connections with people over the years in grocery stores and airports by spotting hand knits “in the wild”.
Getting Started With Knitting
If you’re new to knitting, don’t worry – it’s easy to get started. There are plenty of online tutorials and resources to help you learn the basics. You can start with a simple project like a scarf or hat and work your way up to more complex patterns. I have an easy beginner hat on my blog that you can start with. If you have any questions, reach out to me and I will help however I can.
I will wrap up this post with some helpful links to get you started, or to expand your knitting journey:
Ravelry has an incredible database of patterns and yarns, as well as a plethora or helpful forums and articles.
Knittinghelp.com is where I learned to knit! This website is full of helpful tutorials and videos.
Knitty.com has articles, designs, and tutorials. I go to their website every time it’s been awhile since I’ve done the kitchner stitch. Their tutorial is wonderful. They also have a great one for weaving in ends so they stay hidden.