Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she stresses the importance of self-care for caregivers and offers suggestions for using yarncrafting to stay healthy. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Many of us are caregivers. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports, “44 million Americans age 18 and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities”. Research shows that caregivers themselves are at high risk for a variety of health issues. Whether you are the parent of a special needs child, the adult child caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s or the spouse of someone with a severe disability or chronic illness, it is critical that you make sure to take time for your own self-care. You cannot continue to help those you love if you aren’t first well yourself. Knitting and crochet can help.
Knitting and Crochet Reduce Depression
Caregivers are at major risk of developing depression. Various studies show that up to 70% of caregivers suffer from this condition. Knitting and crochet have both been proven to help reduce depression. Learn more here.
Craft Away Caregiver Stress
Stress is the major complaint of most caregivers. It leads to numerous other health concerns. The stress is totally understandable. You are worried about your loved one, concerned that you aren’t doing enough for them, dealing with medical care and making medical decisions, and probably trying to set your own personal issues aside to make theirs the priority. All of these things are stressful. Knitting and crochet significantly reduce stress. Learn about meditative crafting here.
One of the hardest things for caregivers is the constant sense of feeling out of control. You can’t control the course of an illness or disability. You can’t control the reactions and experiences of your loved one. However, you can control your craft project. The simple pleasure of being able to make all of your own choices from pattern to yarn color can help you to feel like you have some say in what’s happening around you!
Other Concerns for Caregivers
Here are just a few of the other risks that caregivers face if they fail to take care of themselves:
- Chronic anxiety
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Chronic health conditions including heart conditions, diabetes and arthritis
- Diminished immunity
- Low self-esteem
It is wonderful that you’re caring for someone you love. However, it’s hard. Don’t diminish how difficult it is. Many caregiving situations go on for years, making it hugely important for the caregiver to set aside regular time for rejuvenation and restoring their own health and balance.
Knitting and Crochet for Caregivers
Here are some tips for self-care with knitting and crochet:
- Set aside just ten minutes each morning and night to craft. This time that is just for you, no matter what other chaos is happening, can be hugely healing. Consider making your own sacred space for crafting.
- Knit or crochet something special for yourself. As a caregiver, it may feel like no one is taking care of you. This is a healing way to take care of yourself! Aromatherapy eye pillows and comfortghans are two great gifts to give the self!
- Make a prayer shawl for the person that you love. This can be a great way to remember why you’re caring for them in the first place!
- Join / create a crafting group. This gives you much-needed social time. It’s even better if it’s made up of other caregivers who need the same break!
Are you a caregiver? What do you do for self-care?