Living life to its fullest in times of corona - Advice from an OT
Updated: May 4
By Stephanie Parken, MS, OTR/L, CKTP
The American Occupational Therapy Association has often described our role as OTs as helping others "Live Life to Its Fullest." As AOTA promotes Occupational Therapy month (April), they made a new logo of "embracing challenges & enhancing lives." These values resonate with me always, but seem especially poignant right now as we are all facing many new situations. Whether it is the children and families that I have the privilege to work with, or nurturing my own three children, I sincerely desire to engage with others purposefully and meaningfully. Whoever you are and whichever of your roles have changed during this time, I encourage you to consider these action steps.
Take time to PAUSE
Even if it is just 5 minutes, but more as time allows.
Reflect about the situation, the changes and the new reality.
We are all grieving and experience loss. Loss of our previous daily life, ability to be with others, etc.
May be you are enjoying the slowing down and the ability to take a deep breath.
You could be experiencing more anxiety in the unknown and uncertainty.
Journal, talk to someone you trust, meditate, etc.
Try to have realistic expectations of yourself and those you are interacting with (co-workers, teachers, those living with you, etc.).
Set up a routine to help distinguish the productive parts of the day and ensure time to relax and have fun.
Adapt your home into the various environments in needs to be now (school zone, workplace, gym)
For Work - a quiet place, necessary supplies and proper ergonomics are important.
For School - a schedule of activities can make all the difference. Try using visual schedules for younger children who cannot read or benefit from visual cues, ClassDojo to promote motivation, movement breaks throughout the day to improve focus
For Play - However young or old we are, each individual needs time to play. This likely will look different for families with playgrounds being closed and the inability to set up play dates. Consider video calls for yourself or children to connect with friends. Utilize online exercise videos, children's yoga and other resources to move around. Make use of the time to play a board game, work on a puzzle or craft with those in your home. Schedule specific themed dinner nights to change up the routine.
Acknowledge your PRIORITIES & build them into your routine
What do you value enough to ensure that it continues on in this time? For example: keeping a clean home, eating balanced meals, exercise, reading a good book, continuing to learn, etc.
Manage your PERSONAL needs
What do you need on a daily or weekly basis to promote your own well-being? Staying connected with others? Listening to music? Watching movies? Using the time to do something you have not had time to do?
Highlight the wins of the day to focus on the positive.
Be kind to yourself and those around you. None of us have gone through this before, but we can all make it as we partner together.
About the Author Stephanie Parken MS, OTR/L, CKTP, is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with over ten years of Pediatrics experience in both clinical and school settings. In 2013, she became one of about 80 U.S. therapists to receive a board certification in Pediatrics from the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Stephanie's expertise includes: evaluations, consultations (advising and collaborating with teacher s, team members, and parents ), sensory integration, visual motor/perceptual skills, fine motor skills, handwriting development, rehabilitation, feeding therapy, activities of daily life (ADLs), and more.
Click here to connect with Stephanie