By MacKenzie Deighan, Occupational Therapist
It’s no surprise to anyone to say this year has been one for the history books, except we all know it’s for the wrong reasons. This was a year of great occupational disruption.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, we had no choice but to change how almost all of our meaningful occupations were done this year. We moved from our offices to working from home where suddenly our environments were drastically different. Kids were playing, the dog was barking, and your kitchen table made your back hurt. Maybe we lost our jobs altogether.
Gyms closed and suddenly we were forced to run outside, take up home workouts or sometimes take an extended break all together. Borders closed and in one foul swoop we couldn’t see our families, friends or loved ones and felt more alone than ever.
All of these disruptions created a huge weight on our mental health and overall well-being.
What many people don’t realize is that, collectively, as a society and global community, we were living through a traumatic event. With trauma, comes physical and emotional harm and lasting adverse effects on our functioning that we may not even realize in the moment.
Occupations make us who we are so when we are unable to perform them, we lose pieces of ourselves in the process. How do we recover from such a disruptive and draining year that affected our lives so greatly?
The answer is occupation. But it’s a bit more complicated than just that. That doesn’t mean throwing yourself back into work or distracting your mind from the turmoil that still exist, but diving into self-care, goal setting and taking it one step at a time.
Ways to take care of yourself and move forward in 2021.
1. Focus on self-care
- Sleep: the most basic and arguably, most fundamental occupation is our sleep. To focus on rest and recovery will be the foundation to ensure we have the stamina and mental energy to take on 2021
- Habits: we’d be surprised how much of our daily life is centered around habits and routines but are they ones that are good for us? Ensure you create a habit of eating well, moving your body, and not putting the energy into people or things that don’t serve you. Healthy habits will serve as the foundation for a healthy mind!
- We hear so much about these two practices so much these days, because guess what – They work! Mindfulness has been shown to improve self-control, focus, mental clarity and emotional intelligence.
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction also aims at reducing stress levels and creating an overall sense of calmness that improves our well-being and daily functioning.
3. Practice Gratitude
- Even in a year full of lows, you’d be surprised the number of things we can still be thankful for. There are countless benefits of gratitude practice some of which include better sleep, positive feelings, increased expression of kindness and even an improved immune system (ironically relevant!).
- Try starting a gratitude journal and write in it every morning or before bed. That way you’re either waking up grateful or going to bed grateful!
4. Goal setting
- With a new year comes new resolutions. But to avoid that dreaded February resolution quit, ensure you set the right goals the right way to keep them up all year long.
- SMART goals – Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based!
For examples: Walk at east 4 times a week before work in the morning to increase activity level and improve focus at work.
Remember that each of these practices aren’t meant to be easy or an overnight fix. Forming new goals and habits will give you the structure necessary to positively step into this new year and ensure you’re prepared to take on whatever it might throw our way!
Happy New year ☺
To book an appointment with MacKenzie you can call or email us at:
☎️ (902) 370-7322