As a student studying occupational therapy, the importance of teaching clients to balance occupations has been ingrained into my brain.
Occupations include activities of daily living, work, leisure, play, and social interaction. I have been taught to help my clients understand the importance of balancing their daily occupations and taking time to enjoy themselves and recuperate.
According to Occupational Therapy International, a textbook I have used in my studies, occupational therapy “rests on the belief that a balance of self-care, play, work and rest is essential for healthy living, and that occupation is the means by which balance is achieved, and physical and mental well being attained.”
It is easy to advise others on healthy living, but it is harder to take your own advice. As a student, I have become so focused on what I am learning and applying it to working with clients, that I have forgotten that this information can, and should, be applied to my own life.
“I don’t have time for myself.”
As a student in a demanding program, it can be difficult to manage my schedule. I spend hours at school and have to find time to work, complete homework, and perform the rest of my daily occupations. When I have the desire to do something fun or take a break, I find myself feeling guilty for doing something pleasurable because I have homework and other responsibilities that are more important.
John’s Hopkins University has done research on this subject and lists guidelines for maintaining a healthy balance for college students. Time management is important in balancing occupations. Keeping a schedule, prioritizing, setting goals, and avoiding perfectionism can be very beneficial and help to reduce stress.
It is also important to set aside time for yourself; exercise, spend time with friends and loved ones, forget about work and school and allow yourself to watch a movie, play a game, or just relax. Taking short breaks during homework sessions for leisure activity, exercise, or socializing with friends will actually increase efficiency.
These life stressors do not end upon graduation.
These issues are not only linked to healthcare professions; many careers are very demanding and can lead to stress, burnout, and emotional fatigue. By learning to manage stressors and balance occupations now, it will be easier to transition into the workforce in the coming years and maintain job satisfaction.
By creating a balanced schedule and setting aside time to exercise, socialize and relax, your brain will be given time to recuperate, which will maximize the amount of work that you are doing in a shorter period of time.
It is healthy to work hard at school and work, but it is essential to allow time for other activities. This will reduce stress, increase efficiency, and improve both mental and physical health and quality of life.