I have been asked so many times, “What is Occupational Therapy anyway? Do you help people get jobs?” Or I’ve had comments like, “Oh yeah, I know what that is. You go into different work places and make sure people are doing their jobs right.”
Well…Yes, and No.
As an Occupational Therapist, I look at what you like to do, what prevents you from doing it, and then I help you find a way to either do it on your own again, or I determine what compensatory strategies you may need in order to do a modified version of that task so you can engage and enjoy it again.
Occupation in itself is ANYTHING that you choose to spend your time doing. Some things we have to do, for example, personal hygiene and basic daily self-care tasks like eating, bathing and personal grooming. It can also include how you are able to do your job; maybe you have chronic neck, wrist and back pain from sitting at the computer all day. Maybe you are retired and love to garden but fatigue or symptoms of arthritis or lower back pain prevent you from doing that with ease. Arts and crafts, surfing, playing cards, brushing your teeth, having a healthy sex life! These are just a few areas an OT can help you. Just imagine the possibilities and how hard it is to explain it in just one quick sentence.
OT’s also focus on making sure you balance work, play, rest and sleep. When I was an OT student many, many, many years ago I swear that was the only phrase that ran though my brain. “Work, Play, Rest and Sleep” In hindsight I think that’s pretty funny; as I recall there was very little time for play, rest or sleep. That said, I now am a really big fan of creating that balance for myself as well as my clients.
One of the ways I choose occupy my time is in my garden. I love to work the soil; when my hands are in the dirt I have a sense of feeling grounded. The act of pulling weeds shuts the chatter of my monkey mind off. Digging in the ground with my shovel and hoe not only works my muscles to strengthen my body, but also helps in detoxifying my body through perspiration. But the biggest benefit I feel for me is that when I garden, I feel most connected to a higher consciousness. I am able to connect to something much greater than myself. It is in those moments that I have my insights, or that I am guided to help someone in a specific manner. It is here that I feel peace in my heart and calmness in my soul.
I have been gardening most of my life, but I have had challenges with my health over the years. I have had to adapt how I use my tools to work the earth, and how to pace myself so that my muscles, bones and tendons don’t get so over taxed and inflamed. I use many of the adaptive techniques for joint protection and good body mechanics that I teach others; and I am forever grateful for them. They have allowed me to continue doing what I love to do.
This is my happiest time of year… all is in bloom. I am grateful that I have the opportunity and the ability to do my favorite activity – gardening for my health and wellness. Here are a few photos taken from my yard.
Are there things you enjoy doing, but find it physically, emotionally or even spiritually challenging to do them? If so, I would love to hear from you. I would like the opportunity to help you find a solution you need to get you back on track and engaging in your joyful life!
Blessings to you,