First, a disclaimer: I’m not a professional neurologist or psychologist or something. I know only an occupational therapy student’s level of knowledge about the brain. However, I hope that what I lack in specific scientific terminology, I make up for with my anecdotal reasoning.
I’m a bit of a fidgety person. I need to be doing something when watching TV or doing other less engaging activities. Actually, not even when I’m doing less engaging activities. Just when only part of my brain is working, or that’s how I’ve figured it. For instance, I used to make friendship bracelets while sitting in class, as once I knew how to do it, I didn’t have to concentrate on the knots too much, so I could sit and listen while simply keeping my hands busy. Or I would doodle. And when I watch TV shows on my computer, I usually play some sort of game at the same time. I don’t need to concentrate as much on TV shows as I do while in class; therefore, I can allocate more of my concentration to a more complex task, like solitaire or crossword puzzles.
I’m sure my teachers, if they noticed me doodling or tying knots, thought I wasn’t paying attention, but trust me. If didn’t keep my hands busy in those classes, I think I would have gone a bit mad and I would not have really concentrated from the anxiety building up in my hands. But by keeping my hands busy, I could pacify that desire while allowing my conscious mind to focus on what the teacher was saying.
Flan can attest to this desire to multitask and keep the different parts of my brain busy simultaneously. My latest solution is to take up knitting again. It was something I flirted with briefly on a couple of occasions as a child, and I don’t know why I didn’t continue. (I wonder the same thing about choir and ballet, as I’m sure I’d happier and fitter now if I’d continued those as well.)
I received my circular bamboo knitting needles a few days ago, and my three different sets of yarn arrived today. I also learned how to sort of cast on and spent several hours knitting what will be a very large red scarf that Flan has said he wants, even if it’s deformed. Whilst knitting, I have also watched several TED talks and caught up with a few people on Skype.
So how has knitting benefited me from an occupational point of view so far?
- It’s keeping my hands busy.
- In doing so, it’s encouraged me not to use my hands to do mindless things like click around online and on Facebook, instead doing things which don’t require hands as much, like talking on Skype and watching informative videos.
- I’ve talked to a few friends I haven’t talked to in eons.
- Knitting requires coordination and fine motor control, exercising those parts of my brain.
- I’ve also had to follow visual and verbal YouTube directions to learn how to cast-on. (By the way, knitting YouTube uploaders, your videos are very hard to follow. And I watched about five different videos, too.)
- I’ve witnessed the wonders of muscle memory, as despite not having knit in years, once I’d learned how to cast-on and was ready to really start knitting, my hands knew what to do.
So there, I’ve applied occupational therapy to myself today!