Benefits of Occupation
Being able to being able to participate in different occupations is important for any individual and his or her wellbeing. For instance, I know that I love going to the gym, playing volleyball, spending time with my friends and family, listening and playing music and walking my dog. Without these activities in my life, I would feel lazy, bored and down. In today’s lab we specifically discussed the benefits of occupation for individuals with mental health disabilities and how this can assist in recovery- reintegrating oneself into meaningful occupations can assist in progressive mental health recovery. As some symptoms of mental health illnesses include isolating oneself as well as having poor patterns in daily routines looking at increasing and balancing meaningful occupation can be very powerful tool for increasing emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, cognitive wellbeing as well as our spiritual and social wellbeing. In lab we were able to complete worksheets from “Action Over Inertia”. These worksheets can helps individuals discover what activities are meaningful and motivating to them in their lives. They help an individual discover what areas of their life that they might need improvement in and if they are satisfied with their current activity patterns. Being able to complete these worksheets is very client-centered, as it allows for an individualized discovery of personal activity patterns. These worksheets also assist in bringing to light the individual’s own skills. By doing this, we hope that the client will increase self-determination and assume control over their own lives and ultimately feeling empowerment.
What is “Action over Inertia”? Edgelow, M. (2008, Nov). Action over inertia: Ontario mental health and addictions knowledge exchange network (omhaken) capacity building article. Retrieved from http://eenet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ActionOverInertia.pdf -Action over Inertia was created by Occupational Therapists from Queen’s University and the Kingston area (Edgelow, 2008). – Participating in meaningful occupation is beneficial for individuals with mental health disabilities. Action over Inertia is a “occupation time use intervention”. The workbook, which can be purchased at CAOT or taken out from Bracken Library at Queen’s University, “first encourages clients to reflect on their current activity levels and patterns and secondly, supports clients in setting and reaching goals to improve their levels of activity and achieve a balance in their levels of activity” (Edgelow, 2008).
———————————————————————— VITAMIN GREEN Cross Currents Journal discusses the “greening of mental health” and how ‘being and doing in nature’ can positively impact our psychological well being. This issue discusses how using green space in institutions and horticulture can help integrate mental health patients back into the community. Going outside and enjoying nature, gardening and just getting fresh air can help some patient’s alleviate and manage their symptoms. Nature can even help children with concentration in school and stress reduction (Moll et al., 2013).
Horticulture Therapy: “Countless studies attest to the success of horticulture therapy in everything from reducing recidivism in at-risk youth, to reducing aggression in adolescents who have been institutionalized, to reducing cortisol levels, improving self-esteem, helping people to feel less stressed and anxious, reducing the severity of depression and improving perceived attentional capacity and ability to concentrate in people who are depressed” (Moll et al., 2013).
ADHD & Nature: “For children with ADHD, the mildest symptoms were associ- ated with open spaces with grass,” says Faber Taylor, a child environ- ment and behaviour researcher. “For children with ADD, the mildest symptoms were associated with both open grass spaces and areas in nature with big trees and grass,” she adds” (Moll et al., 2013)
I strongly agree that nature can help with physical as well as mental health. I am from Vancouver, BC and am lucky enough to be surrounded by nature. In elementary school my school had a lush forest for a playground, which we called ‘the woods’. Many other elementary schools in this area also have a similar environmental set up. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were created in ‘the woods’. When the recess and lunch bell rang, we would rush into the woods rain or shine and play in nature; this includes climbing trees, making forest shelters and creating make-believe market places. We even had a currency in the magical forest which was “the spotted leaf”. This environment allowed for a lot of creative and imaginative play.
Years later, I went back to visit ‘the woods’ and I could see that tradition and play was passed on from grade to grade and generation to generation. Spending my recess and lunch breaks in the forest really helped me focus in class as I was able to exert my extra hyper energy in the forest playground. Growing up like this also connected me to nature and really learn to appreciate our environment and also learn to take care of it at a very early age. My wish for the future is that all children (especially in urban settings) get the experience to be so connected to nature- I consider myself very lucky. I also believe that it is important to have “vitamin green” in hospital environments. Being able to have open space and look out at nature can be beneficial for mental health of patients. I was placed in Lions Gate Hospital in Vancouver, BC and the patients facing the west got a beautiful view of the ocean and the patients facing the east got a beautiful view of the mountains. The hospital also had specific viewing areas for patients to sit in the sunshine and look out at the landscape. When someone is in the hospital in acute care, they may experience a low mood and have a lot of free time to think. Nature can really uplift the mood and also help patients pass time while staying in the hospital. In addition, as the hospital can sometimes be a stressful environment for employees, I found that looking out the window acted as momentary mental break for those who are working in the hospital. Below are photos I have taken of the hospital views while at Lion’s Gate Hospital.
References: Edgelow, M. (2013, April). Psychoemotional health through activity: the benefits of occupation. OT 845 psychoemotional determinants of occupation, Lab. Lecture conducted from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.