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Can Tactile Activities Reduce Caregiver Stress?

Margery Pabst Steinmetz - January 28, 2019 11:15 AM

Gardening, sewing, playing piano, shaping clay or dough....all tactile pleasures using hands to shape and convey meaning, all these thoughts are on my mind today.  As a caregiver, activities that use our hands also reduce stress as tensions melt into creations—green shoots breaking the soil, a clay cup fired from the kiln or a melody breaking the silence or noise of the day.  When we use our hands to create, we discover solace and create peaceful moments for ourselves and our care partners.


For the past year, I’ve returned to playing the piano; many friends are returning to the instruments they once played in school.  All of us know we will never be professionals and that’s ok, actually better because being in a normal place is just right for assuaging our worries and tensions.  We may feel regret or sorrow for those who have passed on. Maybe the regret is for those things left unsaid or forgotten until now.  In the midst of many negative thoughts and feelings stands the action of using our hands for the useful and creative.  The physicality of digging in the dirt or digging into a pile of long forgotten items in the attic distracts all of us from dwelling on loss and pain and supplants those negative thoughts with a sense of well being and purpose.  


I grew up on a farm where there was never a shortage of things to do with my hands.  At the time, I grumbled about all the hard work and sore muscles, but now that experience has become a solace and a friend for me as a caregiver.  The lessons learned and connections made when working with my hands preparing a meal, stroking a pet, or playing a duet somehow bring clarity to problems and deliver me to a better place of well being.


This month, I will interview Doug McGinnis on the value and benefits in “Creating and Enjoying A Winter Wellness Garden.”  My radio show, “Caregivers Speak” will air on Tuesday, February 12 at 2PM Eastern.  On April 9 at 2PM Eastern, I will interview Elizabeth Kitchens on why caregivers should get their fingers into clay and throw a pot!


Margery Pabst Steinmetz is eCareDiary’s caregiving expert. She hosts the radio show, “Caregivers Speak.” She is an author and founder of the website


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