As an occupational therapist my interest is how people manage their day-to-day activities and occupations (activities). I work for the Short Term Assessment and Reablement service (STARS).
Reablement has been defined as ‘…services for people with poor physical or mental health to help them accommodate their illness by learning or re-learning the skills necessary for daily living’. (SCIE, 2013).
It is the teams vision to support people to maintain, regain and re-activate existing life skills during the therapeutic reablement period. As a time limited team we are also looking to make positive and lasting changes in lifestyles by developing networks with community based support through establishing the answers to the all important “What matters to you?” question.
I am a keen fisherman specialising in fly fishing and the tying and development of fishing flies. Not only do I fly fish and tie my own flies, I also assist at the local fly tying club “The Dumfries and Galloway Fly Tiers”, where I teach intermediate and advanced fly tying and assist in running the club’s Facebook page.
So why do I fly fish? As a fisherman I struggle to understand why people don’t fish in the same way that the golfer doesn’t understand why others don’t wish to play golf. Fishing, although not exclusively, tends to be a solitary Sport. It allows me both times to think and to reflect, and like most fishermen I would not appreciate you coming to speak to me when I am standing alone in a river or on the side of a loch.
Is fishing antisocial? Through fishing I’ve developed many enduring friendships and contacts but like most fishermen when fishing I prefer my own company. For a modest outlay you can be up and running with rod, reel and line. Fishing however as an activity requires an outlay of time. Time alone with your thoughts. Time consumed with something other than your normal routines. Time to get lost in time experiencing unique ‘occupational flow’.
What is occupational flow? The term flow was first coined by Csikszentmihalyi in 1975. The concept of flow however has been recognised particularly in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. To an Occupational Therapist flow is the engagement in a task, activity or occupation where one is fully engaged or absorbed to the point where one will lose track of time and place in a positive way. This psychological state underpins why we choose leisure activities. However, not all leisure activities that help with maintaining health will allow us to experience flow.
In our increasingly sedentary lives with increases in obesity and associated physical and mental health problems, the Scottish allied health professionals (AHP) directors group working with Dr Murray the Scottish Government’s health directorates physical activity champion, agreed that all allied health professionals would work to influence and increase service users physical activity. Increasingly AHP’s are promoting increased activity (150 minutes a week as a starting point), strength and balance exercises to reduce falls. However we need to do more for our service users and ourselves.
When fishing I am physically active. I have that time to reflect to unwind. I feel relaxed and calm. More importantly I experience that loss of time associated with flow and well-being. Regardless if I catch anything or if the fish win: I still win.
So my question to all that are still reading is, when did you last reflect on your activities and experience occupational flow to maintain your well-being? More importantly what are you going to do about maintaining it?
Lewis McGregor, Specialist Therapist (Occupational Therapy) Reablement STARS.
This blog was first posted on DG Health – To see more from DG Health go to: https://dghealth.wordpress.com