When was the last time you asked yourself: Am I truly living an occupationally balanced life? Finding balance is hard, especially when you juggle many roles, but it’s not impossible. We gathered tips from your OT colleagues about finding balance, managing stress, and preventing burnout.
Try implementing one (or more!) of these strategies this week. No time like the present to start improving your life!
This article is targeted to OT and OTA students, but the tips on finding occupational balance can apply to everyone. A few of my favorites:
1) Establish boundaries by giving yourself a day off each week. Completely shut down your “OT brain” and don’t talk about work, don’t think about work, don’t do work. Instead focus on family, friends, or leisure. If you can’t take a whole day off, try a few hours first!
2) Adapt old routines to fit new contexts. If there’s an activity you value but your current situation or environment doesn’t allow for it, adapt it to make it work for the next reality. Moved to a new city and no longer can spend hours on a hiking trail? Be creative (you are in OT, remember?) and join an outdoorsy meetup or start exploring your city parks. Moved away from family for a job? Set up regularly recurring video chats to catch up and stay in touch.
OT Practice magazine recently ran an article with case studies from three very busy OT practitioners who are pursuing post professional degrees. Here are a couple of their tips you can try:
3) Treat Yourself! In the article, Susan talks about how she maintains balance by rewarding herself frequently. I love her mantra of “balance the rewards and reward the balance.” As rewards, Susan watches movies with her husband, bakes cookies with her daughter, goes to dinner with friends, and takes days off.
4) Silence your inner critic. That’s how Marit approaches balance. Flailing is not always failing, so when Marit finds that juggling multiple roles and responsibilities becomes too difficult, she tries to let go of unrealistic expectations and recognize her own limitations. Sometimes a shift in perspective is all it takes to get balanced.
One of the major consequences of living an unbalanced life is that it could lead to burnout. This OT Practice magazine article goes into detail about the signs and symptoms of burnout and provides strategies for avoiding it. The reflective exercises at the end are a great place to start.
5) Every day write down in a journal at least one positive event that you could classify as a joy of practice. Doing this on a daily basis will help you focus more on the positive than on the negative.
We asked your OT colleagues on Twitter to share their tips for staying balanced.
6) Get moving as much as you can. We all know the benefits of physical exercise, so make it a priority like Stacy does. Even if you can’t commit to every day, set a weekly goal for yourself and track your progress (e.g., do yoga twice this week and strength training three times).
7) Schedule everything, even reward time: Susan Lin on Twitter says that the key to balance is to schedule everything—even your “rewards.”
8) Join the making movement and find occupational balance by participating in mindful making. @Makeonomics on Twitter says working on low cost and low tech projects can reduce stress and anxiety.
If you’re more of a visual or auditory learner, check out these webinars about health and wellness for OT practitioners. Get strategies for implementing mindfulness techniques into your practice and learn how to identify and prevent burnout.
What your tips for occupational balance? Have you tried any of these strategies? Have they worked? Log in to CommunOT and leave a comment or send us a tweet @AOTAinc.