Doing, being, belonging, becoming...
Hello, my name is Rob and I am the Course Director for Occupational Therapy at Leeds Beckett University. As an occupational therapist I understand that what we do is part of who we are - maybe you are a runner, a knitter or a baker? Covid-19 has put restrictions on how, where, when and who with we can do the things in our life.
Constant change and having less or more to do can have an impact on your mental and physical health. Occupational therapists are experts in how people occupy their time – so, here are a few suggestions:
How to occupy your time
Take some time to think about how you occupy your time. What is it that you enjoy doing, what reflects your personality, who do you like to do things with, where do you like to go, what make you feel good, what do you have to do, what don’t you like doing? You will probably think of things that you do every day like cooking or taking a shower; others you might do several times a week, such as going to the gym or doing housework, other activities could be less regular, maybe seeing friends or family
It is important that during lockdown or isolation restrictions that you participate and engage in activities, but the way that you do things might need to change.
Have a routine
We all have a daily routine; the way we clean our teeth, eat breakfast, take a bath, study, work. We often do all of this without thinking, until life is different. Your routine might need to change but it is important that you have one. Make time in your day for work or study, for looking after yourself, for looking after where you live and for doing things that are fun. Use a diary to schedule events and to stop work/study running into your leisure time. Try to get up and go to bed at similar times each day – if you are having trouble sleeping there are things you can do to help such as relaxation and limiting screen time, my own research has shown that what helps is individual, but there are some helpful tips here.
Adapt what you do
We can no longer participate in most activities that are inside or with other people. That doesn’t mean we should stop doing them. We must adapt the way that we participate. Lots of you will be doing this already but make use of technology to connect with people – play cards, chat to friends, sing with your choir. Occupational therapy research has shown that by doing things with people we feel a sense of belonging, it is important that you don’t lose this during lockdown or isolation.
In lockdown (not in isolation I am afraid) we can go outside. Occupational therapists have found that many people connect to nature, and that this makes us feel good. Go out in your neighbourhood - whether that’s walking, running or wheeling, and turn your phone off! If you want to get a bit fitter you can find details of the NHS Couch to 5k running programme here.
Do something new
When I have worked with people who have had life changing health events, such as a stroke or depression they often say to me that they don’t want to go back to the way things were. They want life to be different. Covid-19 has been life changing for us all. Maybe you want life going forward to be different? Take the opportunity to stop doing something and to do something new. We all have sense of who we want to be – choose things to do that reflect your being, and perhaps who you want to become. If you are stuck for ideas why not try this interest checklist that occupational therapists use.
Rob is the Course Director for MSc and BSc Occupational Therapy programmes. His teaching interests are occupational science, occupational therapy models and complex interventions. His research is in the areas of children and young people, neurodisability, mental health and occupational formulation.