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Knitting and Crochet Relieves Stress and Depression in Caregivers

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.

caregiverMany 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.

Regaining Control

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
  • Fatigue

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?

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  • Sindy

    Knitting helps me focus on other things and it works.

  • Laura

    I always take my crochet bag to regular doctor visits just in case it turns into a "We need you to stay here tonight." A friend does the same thing. After her little ones "overnight" stay turned into 6months she called to tell me everyone she had ever known was getting potholders for Christmas. It helps to have something to calm your mind so you can process everything the doctor just said.

  • Judith

    crocheting makes me feel good and productive. I am currently crocheting prayer shawls for a breast cancer group. The little cards of appreciation make me feel like I am doing something of value to help these souls suffering from breast cancer and ease their pain along their journey.

  • Christine Eret

    I always have my knitting bag close to me and if I can have my wallet and Chapstick in it, I use it as a bag. Working on another scarf, and will start knitting a cap for my daughter's boyfriend. I love knitting, puts everything into prospective. Finished a hat and scarf for my sister, and started a scarf for her hubby. Hoping that they will enjoy it. I made a lot of stuff down through the years, and was met with much distain.. I knit, because it keeps mu hands from stiffening up with arthritis, which is what I have. Planning on getting a couple of pairs of arthritis gloves, and keep on knitting. I reall would love to try knitting socks and legwarmers...

  • Caz Todd

    Oh my, I've only skim read so far and know I'll be printing this article for my 'self-care' file: I have OCD, so control of my personal space/issues is very much part of my life - you hooked me with the paragraph stating the crafting benefit re this issue. I wondered why I always have a project on the go even when my arthritis says, 'Not tonight.' Thank you for the article.

  • vmf

    I know knitting keeps me on track for sanity! I would very much like to know where to find the pattern for and the name of the yarn used for the shawl the model is wrapped in.

  • Denise

    I have been going to the hospital with special needs son for 41 years. Many a time have sat in the E.R. for days always have a knitting bag with me. One time he was in ICU so long I made a afghan for the DR. The DR would come in every day to see my son and kept asking what I was making. I said a blanket with lots of prayers and tears so when son got better the DR got the blanket. Without those needles I would have gone crazy.

  • Grammy

    Crocheting has been very therapeutic for me! My 18 year old son broke his neck in a sports accident and spent 4 months in a specialty hospital out of state, then an additional 12 months living at a Ronald McDonald House while spending 5 hours a day in physical and occupational therapy. Since I could not find anyone to teach me, I learned to crochet from YouTube videos. All his therapists got scrarves and throws. But many of my Ronald McDonald House friends, received prayer shawls and baby blankets, hats and booties and flowery headbands. I have given away so many that I have lost count. At such a difficult time in the lives of my family, the crocheting let me concentrate on something other than our bleak situation. And it also helped to be able to offer comfort to others. Almost five years later, I am still crocheting and always have a prayer shawl in the works works because I know I will come into contact with someone who needs a little comfort and a prayer. Crocheting has been very therapeutic for me!

  • Deborah Hale

    We learned about a month ago that my mother has lung cancer that metastasized to her brain and there's SO little time left. I'm knitting like a woman possessed - if I didn't I think I'd go mad.

  • http://www.arianabrowning.com/ Ariana Browning

    Thanks for sharing this. I have been getting back into crochet, and it really does do wonders for the nerves. Personally, I can't do knitting (I do enjoy it though) because along with an elder parent, I deal with a ton of pets, and knitting doesn't lend itself to being thrown down so you can chase after a dog, haha. That tends to add to my stress. Crocheting helps to slow me down, too, which is something I think a lot of caregivers deal with. You're constantly having to deal with something, but crochet helps you to relax easier. Love it.

  • vmf

    Lion Brand kindly sent me the information I requested in my earlier post. The shawl in the picture is pattern number 81038AD and it is called the Serene Comfort Shawl. Sadly for me it is a crochet pattern rather than knit, but I thought I would pass on the information regardless. Thank you Lion Brand.

  • Paisley

    Crocheting hats and giving them away to homeless shelters and co-workers is a healing process for me.

  • Rob Smith

    I consider knitting and crochet a <a HREF="http://www.ugly.info" rel="nofollow">healthy lifestyle</A> and hobby based on how it relaxes my mind and soul.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mabnightowl Nightowl223

    I often crocheted every time I was in a hospital waiting room, with every time anyone in the family was ill. Well, now I'm in the oldest generation of the family, and have started more complicated crochet patterns than little blocks to sew together for afghans, because it helps me deal with depression of losing my mother recently, as well as the chronic pain of an SI joint injury that ruined my life a few years ago. I am hoping the crocheting will pull me out of this depression before it's too late for me. *sigh*