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5 Ways To Maximize Health Benefits of Knit & Crochet

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5 Ways To Maximize Health Benefits of Knit & Crochet

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.

Read on to learn more about OT, how crafting plays a role, and 5 ways you can maximize the health benefits of crafting yourself!

What is occupational therapy?

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.

Benefits

Support worker helping a client with knitting. | Image via Leonard Cheshire Disability

Crafting & Self-Efficacy

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.”

To learn more about self-efficacy, click here!

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.

Activate, Promote & Preserve

In ‘The neurological basis of occupation’ Gutman and Schindler studied activities that fell into 3 categories.

Those that:

  • “activate the brain’s reward system”
  • “promote the relaxation response”
  • “preserve cognitive function into old age”

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!

Benefits

Jane Gray | Image via Tapatalk

Express Yourself

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.

Benefits

First Graders at East Bay Waldorf School | Image via Pinterest

Reap the Benefits

To maximize the built-in benefits of your yarn-crafting habit, consider the following tips:

  1. Stay Calm – Keep Breathing! Check out our recent blog on breathing + crafting.
  2. Lose Yourself – Craft without deadlines, for as long as you like.
  3. Challenge Yourself – Choose projects just outside your comfort zone!
  4. Craft in Good Company
  5. Never Stop Learning

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.

Always ask your doctor.

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.

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5 Comments

  • This is an excellent article highlighting the importance of occupational therapy. I work in a field where individuals benefit from occupational therapy programs, like crafting. As an avid crocheter, I know the benefits of crafting on mental and physical health, and I promote the benefits for other whenever I can, I will be sharing the article with others!

    • Hi, Chelsea – Thank you for sharing your experience! I didn’t know much about OT before researching it for ‘OT Month’, and it was wonderful to learn about the ‘whole person’ approach the field celebrates.

  • I believe that there would be a lot less stress in the world if people took time to relax. Knitting is the quickest and most rewarding way I have learned to relax.

    • Hi, Kay – So glad you’ve found your outlet! We definitely prioritize ‘being busy’ here in America, and could benefit from relaxing more. Here’s to less stress in 2018!

  • Broke my right wrist badly on 2/21. After surgery to repair it on 3/1 I couldn’t move it at all. Thanks to OT I am now able to knit and crochet again. I’m slow and my arm tires easily but I can do it. I’m still in therapy and every session it gets better.

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