I recently wrote a detailed article for Lion Brand Yarn about how crochet and knitting can be useful for caregivers, something that I re-iterated this week in an article I published at About.com Crochet. It’s a topic that I’ve written about before and one that I devoted an entire chapter to in my book Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet. And it’s a topic that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of because I think it’s so important for caregivers to make sure that they are caring for themselves first and foremost and I think that it’s something that most caregivers fail to do.
Self-Care is Not Selfish
It always makes me so sad when I hear anyone say that taking time for themselves is selfish. It devastates me when it’s a caregiver who is saying this. If you are spending a large portion of your time giving physical, financial, emotional or energetic care to another person then you are being selfless much of the time.
Many people dismiss this because they often get angry or frustrated or irritated with the person they are caring for and then it doesn’t feel selfless. Guess what? Those are normal feelings. You are still choosing to care for someone else. It may not feel like a choice, but it is. Mother do leave their children. Adult children do disown their elderly parents. To choose to care for someone else, even when you are doing it because you are “supposed to” or because “they’re family” is still a choice and it’s one that requires some acts of selflessness.
It is not selfish to take the time to care for yourself. In fact, self-care is a critical part of being a good caregiver. You aren’t a good care provider when you’re completely taxed. If you are tired and drained then you are more likely to be snappy and irritable or even rough, rude or careless with the person that you’re trying to take care of. It happens. It’s human. Taking care of someone else day in and day out is hard, especially when that someone often wishes that you weren’t their caregiver! When you take the time to do what you need to do to rest and replenish your own energy wells, you are actually making yourself a better caregiver and therefore helping that person more.
It may feel like you might not have time for self-care but actually taking that time will improve your ability to care for another person.
Crochet Yourself a Sense of Control
One of the most basic, yet most important, ways that crochet can help caregivers is by providing a sense of control over something in an otherwise chaotic world. I wrote in the Lion Brand article:
“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!”
Crochet for Your Own Health and Wellness
It’s not just the sense of control that crochet offers, of course. Crochet helps reduce depression, anxiety and stress, all of which caregivers are excessively prone towards. Crochet can be used for meditation, mindfulness and prayer, things that many caregivers find healing and soothing. Donating a crochet item to a charity related to the person you’re caring for (such as an Alzheimer’s charity if you’re the caregiver to a parent with dementia) can help you feel better in ways both big and small. Crocheting for ten minutes each day can provide you with the patience to get through a rough morning routine each day. You can learn more about how crochet helps caregivers from the aforementioned Lion Brand article, this previous blog post, and the related chapter in Crochet Saved My Life. You can also share your own experiences with caregiving and get support from others who understand in the Crochet Saved My Life Ravelry group.
Note: adding this post to the Link Up over at Little Monkeys Crochet.