Written by Carly Treloar – Occupational Therapist
What Holds Meaning To You?
The meaning and purpose behind our daily activities means different things to different people, like, having the ability to access your backyard independently. For one person it may mean being able to garden, grow vegetables and provide food for your family, yet for another, it may just mean being able to hang the washing out as a daily household necessity.
6 Core Concepts!
The concepts behind living a purpose filled and meaningful life that I identify with most are those that encompass Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Health and Wellbeing.
1. Physical and Mental Well-being- To care for your brain!
The brain likes to think, thoughts and ideas just keep coming, sometimes leading to cognitive overload, increased anxiety levels and a reduced ability to sleep at night because we just can’t switch off.
In saying this, you can’t turn off your brain completely, it doesn’t work that way.
Lets think about our heart for a moment, it continues to beat involuntarily and can pick up speed during times of acute stress or during exercise, which is normal, however, if it continues our health and well-being is impacted so we need to employ ways of slowing it down.
Our brain is exactly the same, thoughts continuously pass by and when we are over loaded, they tend to stack up and prevent us from identifying the opportunities for ‘life’s enrichment’.
The need to nurture not only the body you reside in, but provide your brain with the self-care it needs like regular Brain Breaks at work, meditation or mindful practices. This will slow the pace down, providing you with more vitality to enjoy those moments you need to live a fulfilling life.
2. Belonging and recognition
To live a meaningful life, to have purpose, we need to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves.
People seek interactions with other people of similar interests, we seek recognition for our efforts and this fills us with a sense that we are valuable, we are needed, others identify with our talents, and skills which often leads to finding people with common interests.
To feel like you belong, whether it be within a community group, part of a sports team, within your family or the workplace, drives us to build individual roles within the community we live; This then forms social connections and bonds that improve our Physical and Psychological Health.
3. Our Experiences – our identity is shaped by our experiences and the people we mix with
When you connect with others, or you get to share your experiences, your values, your interests, then something wonderful happens…. friendships are formed.
Our identity is how we see ourselves, and how others perceive us in relation to the different roles we play in any given context.
When at home, I am a mother, a partner a soulmate, I tend to, and nurture the environment. I am emotionally present when I spend time with my children, and pride myself of being able to provide a safe and secure home with food on the table to support my family’s needs.
In the community, I am an Occupational Therapist, the people I spend my time with and the experiences I have, shape the way I see myself and my contributions to society.
Both of these roles are fulfilling and provide me with meaning and purpose in my life.
4. Personally Treasured Activities
What do you like to do when you are not serving others? What brings you joy and enriches your life?
I spend time outdoors, hiking trails, swimming, traveling, climbing mountains, skiing and spending time with loved ones; These are activities I treasure and need to feel fulfilled.
Personally treasured activities are things that we do without feeling like we have to do them, we do them for ourselves, to have our needs met, they bring you joy and enrich your life.
5. Spiritual closeness
This topic raises many questions? Spirituality is not a religion, it is the relationship you have within yourself.
Spiritual closeness is described as experiencing a soulful longing for an intimate connection. It is also about being able to open ourselves up to something larger than ourselves, to be intimate with our life both within us and outside of us.
To be able to find peace within ourselves to enable us to connect with others
6. Environmental connections
The environment is one of the most important factors relating to how we engage with others, it impacts our social interactions, our emotional responses and provides all of the required sensory stimuli needed for us to know our place in the world we live in.
We are sensory beings, ‘Sensory Enrichment’ is essential for physical and psychological health. To be in an environment that does not stimulate our senses in a positive way can have negative effects to our overall well-being;
Examples of this are seen within our working environments, like the office that has fluorescent lighting, computer screens, no windows, and minimal opportunities for movement breaks.
Working in a well balanced environment that has good natural lighting, regular transitions between tasks, time for going outside for fresh air, and increased opportunities for movement provides the necessary sensory stimuli to maintain our physical and psychological health requirements.
Increased physical movement and exercise opportunities during the day has been shown, through research, to improve immune function which then may lead to higher productivity levels.
As I said earlier, The meaning and purpose behind our daily activities means different things to different people. Each stage of life, holds different meaning to us, and our needs change as we age.
Occupational Therapy identifies the occupational needs of individuals and the importance of the meaning and purpose behind our chosen daily activities.
The purpose of this blog is to open up the doors for you to see how important occupational participation is for people of all ages, and we begin with a child’s occupation in the next blog..