Activity, or should we say lack of meaningful activity, has become the norm for most over the past year. We have pressed pause on activities that we enjoy and value, some we have yet to be reconnected with, and others may never take on the same format as before.
Activity, and more importantly meaningful activity, is important to myself as an Occupational Therapist. It’s our bread and butter, we help people to plan and work towards achieving their goals, taking into account many influencing factors. What, where, how and how often we engage in activities can have an instrumental impact on our mental wellbeing, and now more than ever this is immensely important. Activity is something we can have a degree of control over in a world that has no resemblance to the one we have known.
We can all recall activities in our childhood that we lusted after all week; we looked forward to the physical, social and psychological benefits of them. They provided us with confidence and a love of life even just sometimes in that moment. They allowed us to meet with friends, escape siblings and parents, provided somewhere we could be happy and content. How as an adult is that harder to achieve? We swap our hobbies that we once loved for the monotony of maintaining a household and ….. Where did we lose that feeling of exhilaration?!?!
Now more than ever, when we have more time and need to look after ourselves, why do we find ourselves mindlessly flicking through our phones and letting Netflix continue without hesitation and losing hours of our day? And this is usually within the same 4 walls where we now find ourselves working – if we are lucky enough to still be working.
Activity gives us routine, it makes us get up, get showered, dressed and out the door. It provides us a space to be ourselves, perhaps enabling a break from being mum/dad/son/daughter. It allows us to talk with others, to seek support from peers and can provide a distraction from worries. Meaningful activity plays a key role in most individuals wellbeing, it make us who we are, as well as enabling us to meet other key values in life
So can we recall that feeling of exhilaration? What gave us it? What could make us feel like that again? Give it a go, or even start building up to being able to do that marathon, climb a Munro, have a friends weekend, make that feeling a reality and notice how it makes you feel before, during, and after. Then bottle that feeling and use it to keep you engaged in activity.
Let’s build our own freedom. Freedom from perceived obligations, from the need ‘to do’, from social media, to what makes you YOU and makes you feel ALIVE.
Occupational Therapist, NHS Ayrshire and Arran
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