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We welcome back guest writer Jess Walter to The Purple Jacket!
Being a caregiver can take its toll on well being, but making time to take care of yourself by keeping up interests and hobbies, can alleviate stress and help you stay connected. Over 16 million American households enjoy woodworking as a hobby according to a study by The Craft and Hobby Association, making it one of the top four hobbies in the US. It continues to grow in popularity, as easy access to online tutorials and renewed interest in woodworking classes help to inspire new generations of DIYers. An age-old craft using body and mind to create something beautiful and practical, for a caregiver it is also is an engaging and a rewarding way to share an interest with the person they care for or to connect with people and make new friends at a local class.
Learning and Sharing Skills
Caring for someone can be challenging and an absorbing hobby like woodwork can provide a welcome break from daily duties.The pleasure gained from creating something from scratch is timeless, and woodworking can be an enjoyable pastime at any age. Home accessories or children’s toys are simple projects requiring minimal skills and are an easy way to get started. A woodworking workshop can be a social space where people learn from each other and, as confidence builds, making more complex such as small pieces of furniture that require routing and joints becomes more achievable. Whether a beginner or more advanced woodworker, using the right equipment can make light work of these projects, ensuring satisfaction at having created something useful and appealing.
Improving Your Brain
There may be times during the routine of caregiving when life becomes a drudge and this is when a hobby can provide welcome stimulation. As well as being a fulfilling pastime, woodworking can keep your mind sharp. Any pastime is good for mental stimulation but getting involved with crafting hobbies leads to participants being 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or memory loss. This is because woodworking is an activity that uses all areas of the brain and helps brain cells function better. You not only need the ability to physically cut wood, insert joints and add finishing touches but also to apply basic math and geometry in the planning stages of a project. With social interaction and communication being important elements of working together in a class, this problem-solving aspect of woodworking is also one which lends itself well to sharing ideas and creative solutions. Together, you can help each other decide the best way to join a corner on a drawer or whether or not to add an inlay to a table top.
A Healthy Distraction
Even if you are looking after someone with mild dementia, there are elements of woodworking that can be very rewarding for them to share too. It provides an absorbing diversion and helps form close friendships too. It can be empowering to take a piece of plain wood and cut and shape it into a useful object. Woodworking allows you both to be present in the moment, finding satisfaction in working with your hands. The touch and smell of the wood stimulates the senses and, for both of you, this mindful activity can be a healthy distraction from the day to day stresses of illness and caregiving. As a diversion, woodworking may carry on giving comfort through loss and grief, and the pieces you make with the person you care for become lasting mementos of a shared life.
Woodworking is a rewarding pastime for a carer. Creating a simple wooden toy or a chest of drawers gives a great sense of achievement and is a pleasurable way to be distracted. Making room in your life for an absorbing hobby is important to your own well being, giving you a welcome respite from daily caring duties and it can be a good way to build connections with new people or strengthen bonds with loved ones.