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The Soothing Benefits of Scrapbooking

Created: 03/07/2011
Last Updated: 08/13/2012

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Guest blogger: Nancy Monson, author of Craft to Heal: Soothing Your Soul with Sewing, Painting, and Other Pastimes

When a loved one becomes chronically ill, there may be a feeling that the opportunities for making wonderful new memories with that person are now gone, erased by the overwhelming responsibilities of caregiving. But the truth is that even though a care recipient is suffering from dementia, recovering from a stroke, bed-bound or in a wheelchair, the time you share together can still be a time to remember. The key is to find a mutually engrossing and enjoyable activity—and the popular craft of scrapbooking fits the bill nicely.

One of the big psychological pluses associated with scrapbooking—in fact with any craft or hobby—is that it has the ability to transport both you and your care recipient  to a different place, away from routine concerns. According to New York University psychologist Robert Reiner, PhD, who conducted a study of the stress-reducing value of sewing, “The act of performing a craft is incompatible with worry, anger, obsession, and anxiety. Crafts make you concentrate on the here and now and distract you from everyday pressures and problems,” he says. “They’re stress-busters in the same way that meditation, deep breathing, visual imagery, and watching fish are.”

"Scrapbooking provides a respite from illness for both the caregiver and the care receiver," concurs Amy Cotton, MSN, APRN, a geriatric nurse practitioner who often provides home care to elderly patients in Bangor, Maine. "You're connecting with one another rather than just dealing with the illness or visiting, so scrapbooking can be a very positive, relationship-building tool."

Scrapbooking also allows you to view the person you’re caring for in a new way: By hearing the stories behind the pictures and mementoes you comb through as you craft, you have the opportunity to see your loved one not as the physically frail person he or she has become, but as the vibrant person he once was. That was true for television celebrity Leeza Gibbons. She started scrapbooking as a way to bridge the communication gap with her mother, Jean, after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “When my mom’s cognitive ability began to slip away it was in small, manageable pieces in the beginning,” she writes on her website (www.leezagibbons.com). "We would sit for hours and pour through her memory boxes and photos getting girlishly giddy over tickets to a dance with a young boyfriend, and misty-eyed at the sight of her firstborn, my brother. She couldn’t quite remember which of the three kids it was, but love is love and once you’ve felt it and given it away, that never leaves you."

Finally, making an album of your past creates a beautiful keepsake for future generations, explains Bernie Siegel, MD, author of 101 Exercises for the Soul: A Divine Workout for Body, Mind, and Spirit, and offers the chance to take stock, a process that can be both emotional and insightful. “Memories are how we pass down our traditions and preserve our legacies,” notes Gibbons. “It’s what resonates at the end of the day and at the end of a life. Memories matter.”

Click here to learn Scrapbooking 101

Nancy Monson is the author of Craft to Heal: Soothing Your Soul with Sewing, Painting, and Other Pastimes, which details the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of pursuing a hobby you love. She also writes for many national magazines on craft, health, and relationship topics. Visit her website at www.nancymonson.com.

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Comments

Hi,

This article points out how scrapbooking together can really help to bring comfort and togetherness to a family with a member who is ill. It's so true.

When my Aunt was terminally sick, I used digital scrapbooking in a similar way. I would spend afternoons with her, with my laptop propped up in front of her, going through old family photos and talking about our family history and our times together, about friends and family both here and gone...

Then, I would go away and create digital scrapbooking pages with some of those pictures, including on those pages some of the things we had talked about. Then I'd load the digital pages onto one of those electronic picture frames which I set up on the table near my Aunt, so that she could see the images as they rotated on the screen in front of her.

My Aunt is gone now, but I think our times together and the digital scrapbooking pages I created for her really meant a lot to her. And, they are pages I cherish now. And, I've had the pages printed into a bound book and given copies to several members in the family. They loved that.

-Mary
http://www.scrappyDigits.complaces

Good post, I always like them

Although none of my family members are ill, scrapbooking my parent's wedding day and honeymoon photos gave them a chance to relive their memories. And us kids benefited, too, in learning more about their special day.

As a digi-scrapper, I created a digital book so that duplicates could be ordered for other family members.

I also took some of the pages from their book and put them into a calendar so they could also see the pages on their wall every day.

It was so heart-warming to see my Dad light up when he saw the book in its final form. He loved sharing it with others! I'm considering getting him another copy to keep in his office.

I agree with Gibbons that "Memories Matter!"

Pamela "Story Saver"
www.TuStoria.com

Every time a family member celebrates his or her birthday, I make it sure that I am able to do some scrapbooking and present a special gift for him or her. I really love to do this because it is more personal and you can see the effort.

I started scrapbooking as a way to put memories together as my mother fainted with dementia. This led me into creating greeting cards which in turn took me to Stampin' Up! I found the products to be of high quality which led me to create more and improve my health. You wonder how? It lowered my blood pressure. You see this is one place you can get lost and all your problems disappear. Now I have created a blog to help other paper crafters be creative. Curious go StampinPinkRose.com

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