It’s time for another addition of Yarn Work & Wellness! This month is Occupational Therapy Month. Contrary to the name, occupational therapy has little to do with one’s job. It’s a process focused on helping people who are struggling with physical, mental or emotional challenges fully participate in work, school, and social situations. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. website, practitioners don’t ask, “What’s the matter with you?” but instead focus on the question, “What matters to you?” Knitting and crocheting offer many health benefits, even for those using them casually.
AOTA says occupational therapy (OT) can help differently-abled people to fully participate in school and work, help people recovering from injuries. OT also offers “supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.” The word ‘occupational’ comes from the use of occupations, or everyday activities. Practitioners use these activities in a therapeutic process to guarantee benefits to clients.
CNN interviewed clinical neuropsychologist Catherine Carey Levisay, who said:
“Crafting improves our self-efficacy, or how we feel about performing particular tasks. Psychologists believe a strong sense of self-efficacy is key to how we approach new challenges and overcome disappointments in life.”
It’s easy to see that a more developed sense of self-efficacy would enable us to thrive in many areas. This is a major goal of an occupational therapy process. Levisay goes on to say, “Realizing you can, in fact, crochet a sweater for your nephew can help you tackle the next big paper your teacher assigns.” As a result, this confidence could be transferred to more serious challenges life presents.
In ‘The neurological basis of occupation’ Gutman and Schindler studied activities that fell into 3 categories.
We’ve all experienced the enormous reward of completely a project, especially one that’s been lingering in our WIP pile! This joy is amplified when the project is a gift, or when you receive positive feedback from others. And in our last Yarn Work & Wellness, ‘Craft for Less Stress!’, we detailed the stress-reducing benefits of crafting with yarn. In the past couple years, research has illuminated more connections between crafting and brain health in later years. Suffice it to say, knitting and crocheting cover all the bases!
One reason crafting can be a meaningful tool for OT is the power of self-expression. This article by The Spruce describes the benefit of being able to express yourself instead of trying to do something ‘right’. “This can be a relief for many people who are having trouble doing regular everyday things, like eating or walking, in the ‘right’ way.” Being able to craft whatever you want, however you want, instills confidence and increases self-efficacy.
To maximize the built-in benefits of your yarn-crafting habit, consider the following tips:
If you’re looking for some colorful inspiration for something new to whip up for spring, check out these easy patterns! The Pom-Pom & Tassel Wall Hanging is for all kinds of crafters. It includes some fun beginner skills, like pom-pom making, and is appropriate for crafters of all ages. Another great beginner projects is the Rainbow Strip Scarf (Crochet). It’s a fun self-striping scarf made with Landscapes Yarn. All the beauty of colorwork, while still being a Level 1 pattern. The Tassel Trimmed Pillow (Knit) is a fun & easy décor project. It requires some simple sewing, and just one cake of Mandala Yarn.
Crafting in good company is always recommended, as an increased sense of community is also healthy! Working through problems together can strengthen relationships (and help you get answers to your questions!). One fantastic way to keep learning is to take class! We have a Youtube channel (visit the homepage to subscribe!), where we share technique videos, new patterns, and more. If you learn better in person, and want to craft communally, visit our Lion Brand Yarn Studio. We offer many classes each week, and master classes monthly with renowned crafting experts.
If you have any health-related concerns, please do what feels safe and comfortable for you. We don’t claim any medical expertise, but strive to present interesting news about the health benefits of the crafts we love. It’s always advisable to check with your physician before trying new physical techniques. It’s most important to us that you craft happy & healthy.