Knitting has been a game-changer for my mental health

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May 2024) we wanted to challenge the perception of exercise. Whilst there is no doubt that movement is beneficial for both body and mind, it doesn’t have to be in a traditional or stereotypical form. Dan Soar, known as the Tattooed Knitter, has set the world record for the most blankets arm knitted in 24 hours, in a challenge watched by 1.2 million people.

For Mental Health Awareness Week Dan is is taking on a knitting challenge like no other – he will be climbing the equivalent of Everest on the stairmaster whilst knitting. Join Dan during his live stream over on his TikTok starting Friday 17th May at 4pm and show some support during his 58,000 steps.

Dan explored with us below the importance of knitting for his wellbeing and mental health – encouraging people to try different activities, to find something that suits them and makes them happy.

In what ways do you incorporate movement into your daily life?

I incorporate movement into my life in lots of ways. I enjoy quite traditionally “aggressive” sports like boxing and ice hockey, but day-to-day I love knitting, which people wouldn’t always associate with movement. However, even the smallest things can make such an impact. People know me as someone who doesn’t do things simply. When I knit, I like to arm or hand knit, using my body instead of needles. The movement involved in arm knitting is especially rewarding for me.

 

What has supported/empowered you to move in your daily life?

I am so encouraged by the support I have received to keep knitting, and I love hearing when others say that I have inspired them to do the same. My family are also incredibly supportive; my mum comes to all my ice hockey games, and even when I would have boxing matches, she would attend and support me.

" I feel like I carry a lot of anxiety, like I have a knot in my stomach most of the day, but when I knit, it all just goes."

– Dan Soar

How has movement supported your wellbeing and mental health?

Knitting has been a game-changer for my mental health. I don’t think about anything else. I also like boxing and ice hockey; I feel like these sports help me process my emotions in a healthy way.

Have there been any other benefits of including movement in your daily life?

I have built up such a community through my knitting, and I’ve discovered something that I genuinely love doing. Even if my following wasn’t there and TikTok wasn’t there, I would still be knitting because of how good it makes me feel.

Have you experienced any barriers to movement and physical activities? (financial, accessibility, confidence, etc.)

There is a big stigma around men having hobbies such as knitting, but I have always been the kind of guy to just give things a go regardless of the opinions of others. The pandemic was especially difficult on my mental health, and I am incredibly grateful to have discovered something so beneficial to my mental health.

What has been the impact of those barriers and how have you overcome them?

I still have people come into my livestreams and make negative comments, but I don’t let them get to me. I think that if I can show others that I’m not ashamed of knitting and having a hobby I love that isn’t traditionally “manly” then others don’t need to either.

Is there anything you would say to others to encourage them to move their way?

I would say to give anything a go at least once, don’t let the fear that you’re not going to be good enough, or that you won’t be able to do it, stop you from even trying. You won’t know until you try!

Ready to move your way?

This year's Mental Health Awareness Week we want to
encourage people to find a way to move their body
and mind in every day activities.

Get involved

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.

Donate today