Updated: Nov 8, 2020
By Sarena Jones, Occupational Therapist
This is actually really hard…
Health professionals are often the worst at looking after themselves. Chefs rarely cook well for themselves and builders always have renovations or personal projects that never seem to go anywhere! Personally, I’ve always been a fan of thinking about myself - or sorting my own stuff out - last. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume I’m not the only one? Boy, does this stupid trait exacerbate when you have kids!
Let’s presume we all need to eat a variety of healthy food, regularly exercise and get between 6-10 hours of sleep a night - but what else is there? The quick fixes are always good - sex, chocolate, laughter, patting furry animals, etc.
What about long lasting self-fulfilling happiness? Well, engaging in ‘meaningful occupations’ is what the occupational therapy profession is built on!
Keeping yourself busy and active - not just with exercise, but just doing keeps your body, mind and spirit healthy.
Learn new stuff, try new stuff, get out and about, do the stuff you enjoy. Don’t overload yourself with easy thoughtless entertainment - hmm, binge on Netflix, or social media stalking anyone? As I’m an OT I’m going to consider some theoretical models for just a second… Stay with me!
1) Find your motivation. What gets you going?
Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) (Kielhofner, 2008)
Here, volition (or motivation) and its interaction with daily routines, functional performance and the environment in which they occur is vital. What interests you, what are your values, what motivates you? Try doing more of that! Now think about that patient you feel might be stuck in a rut. What motivates them?
2) Pay attention to your body, mind and spirit
Occupational Performance Model (OPM Australia) (Chapparo and Ranka, 1997)
Here, the body, mind and spirit all require some love, in order to achieve meaningful occupational roles in our lives. The body often speaks louder than the other two, but how do you care for your mind or your spirit? Do you practice cognitive exercise? Do you try new things? Challenge yourself? What about mindfulness? Do you have daily ‘roles’ that are important to you? Mother? Health professional? Gardener? Carer?
3) Understand your unique purpose.
Do you feel satisfied with your day-to-day?
Maslow’s Hierarchy (Maslow, 1943)
As you can see, ‘self-actualisation’ or ‘fulfilment’ is at the pointy end. Do you feel you prioritise and listen to your internal drive? Achievement of one’s potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity. Why are you here on earth do you think? No biggie - just something to think about! This is where it’s at, but of course you must make sure all your other needs are met before you get there. As in, you can’t reach your potential and great happiness if you don’t feel safe and confident, spend time with friends and family and eat your veggies! Well, that’s what I tell my kids and my husband. For me, I always appreciate the ‘keep it simple stupid’ theory:
If I’m doing something that brings me joy, challenges, energy and a sense of pride and achievement, I’m probably on the right track.
So, in closing - obviously I need to read and re-read this post on a regular basis… I need to prioritise quiet moments to myself to do a ‘spot audit.’ Do you? What’s important to you? What’s at your core? What gives you joy, pride, challenge and energy?
There are many resources out there, but here are some good ones to start with:
Don't just survive. Thrive! Many thanks - and may you find your real happiness and share it with the world…
[Originally posted in 2017, at Allied Health Support Services]
Chapparo, C. and Ranka, J. (1997) Towards a model of occupational performance: Model development. In Chapparo, C. and Ranka, J. (Eds). Occupational Performance Model (Australia): Monograph 1 (pp. 24-45). Occupational Performance Network: Sydney. Available from: www.occupationalperformance.com/origin [Accessed 15 July 2017].
Kielhofner, G. (2008). Model of Human Occupation: Theory and Application. Fourth Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.