If you can't remember when you did something just for yourself,
then it's time to re-balance your lifestyle.
Your health depends on it.
Achieving the right balance is different for everyone. It depends on
your individual energy level, interests, work demands, and personal supports.
Whether you choose to work inside or outside the home, work demands can
be overwhelming and never ending. It is easy to forget the toll that busy
lifestyles can have on us all. Occupational therapists work with individuals
to acquire skills or make changes necessary to establish a balance of
work, leisure, activities of daily living and rest.
Try these occupational therapy strategies to find the right balance for
1. Evaluate how much time you spend in each
For one week, keep track of your daily activities on a calendar. This
will help you identify how much time you spend working, taking care
of yourself, doing leisure activities and where you might be able to
make realistic changes to achieve more balance
2. The more hectic your lifestyle, the more
important it is
that you plan your time wisely.
Take time once a week to sit quietly and think about the week ahead.
Draw up a list of the things you need to get done, then highlight the
most important activities. The key is to prioritize your time. Highlight
the most important tasks in a bright colour. Cross off the tasks that
you do accomplish and focus on what you accomplished, not on what you
didn't. This reduces anxiety.
3. For your mental health, make sure you do what's
meaningful to you.
Consider your physical, social, spiritual, emotional and intellectual
needs. Make sure that your daily activities fulfill these needs. Each
day, write down at least one activity that you would most like to accomplish
for yourself. If you make this a priority, then the other less important
activities can be postponed or eliminated.
4. Be realistic in setting your goals.
What do you need to do, to achieve these? More time for yourself? Hired
help? Delegation of tasks? Build a support system of colleagues, friends,
and/or partner, and help each other to live the lives you truly desire.
5. Make your weekends work for you!
Studies show that many of us spend over 12 hours each weekend doing
household chores and errands. Spread your activities out over the week.
Grocery shopping during the week in non-peak hours is not only faster,
but also less stressful. Cutting the lawn during the week leaves your
Saturday morning free for a game of tennis or golf.
6. Look at your values.
What is really important in your life? Build in the time for what is
most important to you rather than acting on what you "should"
do. Most of all take time for yourself to refresh and recharge your
own batteries or you won't be of help to anyone else!
If you are feeling stressed, you are not alone!
The percentage of Canadians feeling stressed as they try to juggle work
and personal responsibilities has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.
Caregiving for elderly parents and children, corporate downsizing, greater
emphasis on workplace productivity and increased technology, have resulted
in greater stress and consequently health-related problems.
Source: Workplace Today. (1999). Canadians feel stressed
in balancing home and work lives. September, p. 6.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), founded in 1918, is a
national, voluntary organization whose mission is to promote the mental
health of all people through research and information services, workshops,
seminars, publications and resource centres. There are branches of CMHA
in cities and towns throughout Canada.
Two essential goals of mental health promotion are a sense of control
over one's health, and resiliency or the ability to bounce back from life's
Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association web site: www.cmha.ca
for "Ten Tips for Mental Health" and other information on publications,
projects and links to other sites.
CMHA - National Office
2160 Yonge Street, 3rd Floor
Toronto, Ontario M4S 2Z3
Tel: (416) 484-7750
Fax: (416) 484-4617
These are just a few strategies that we can develop for achieving good
mental health in the workplace, home and community. Occupational therapists
work with persons of all ages to develop skills and resources to deal
with problems and stresses of daily living. For more information on how
occupational therapy can help you, please visit our resource site at:
www.otworks.com or call 1 (800) 434-2268. ext. 237.
Thank you to Occupational Therapist Ann Moore, from Dartmouth Mental Health
Services, Nova Scotia Hospital, Dartmouth, N.S. for her valuable contribution.
For further information, contact:
CAOT Director of Professional Practice, 1 (800) 434-2268, ext. 237 or
© CAOT Publications ACE 1999, CAOT - CTTC Building
Suite 3400, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5R1
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May / June 2000 Table
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