Welcome to my blog if you haven’t been here before! My name is Kristina, I am an Occupational therapist in Ontario, Canada! I work with children and young adults at a day program on an outdoor property. I have spent the last 6 months working there and have found how important the lessons that I bring to my clients, as well as the rest of my interprofessional team bring, are not only for the clients but for us as well!
At the beginning of this year, I had a conversation with a friend who mentioned she was simplifying her life. This included Unfollowing people on Instagram, unsubscribing from emails, limiting screen time…. But also simplifying her days, scheduling things that bring her joy and what her expectations of those things look like. That honestly stuck with me so much and inspired not only change in my personal life but change with my approach with my clients.
One of the things I have been focusing on with one of my clients this past week is practicing identifying little things that make you happy/grateful/calm etc that you can access on your own that are NOT people.
Let me expand a bit here – we are moving into our third year of the COVID pandemic, and something that has been a constant for most people is that life is not predictable at this time. At the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, a lot of people got the rude awakening that our lives have been built around socializing, keeping extremely busy with work, and always being on the go. Many of us (myself included) were not good at spending time on our own, or spending quiet time that was not as busy and full of stimulation. This brought me to realization that YES it is wonderful to build a community, have close friends we can count on and can do activities with, but it is also important to build ourselves up so we can cope with time alone. And I have realized that some of my clients at work need help with this kind of occupational work too.
When I graduated from undergrad, I needed a mental health break, so I didn’t apply to grad school and moved back in with my parents (whom I love living with, but it just was different than what I thought my plan would be). I was working a job I didn’t really love just to earn money for my debt, and my partner had broken up with me. I was at an extremely low point in my life, and something that kept me going through alright days and bad days was reflecting on three things that I was grateful for that day. On better days the things might be more deep or powerful, but on harder days they were small like watching a squirrel bury a nut, or the sun shining. But recognizing that these things could make me happy even for a moment was a big deal for me.
The client that I refer to, is a very social individual, he connects very quickly with people and loves spending time with his friends. However, he also relies on them to distract him with activities, and when he is not busy with them, his mental health can spiral. Each program day that I work with him, he starts his day answering two reflective questions in a journal and then we connect. This week I challenged him to write 3 things that make him happy, that are NOT people. It took him way longer than usual to finish his journal and needed support from me to push him to keep thinking, but he was able to come up with 3 simple things.
And that exercise we did together, is something that I wanted to share so that hopefully whoever reads this post, even if it is just one person, can challenge themselves to think about this. It doesn’t have to be a daily reflection if you don’t want to commit to anything, but as you finish reading this post, what are three things that make you happy that are NOT people? This can be activities, occurances, weather, food etc. If you want an extra challenge, can you name some things that you could experience from inside your home? What about things you might have to go out and seek? And then at the end of it… are there any of these things you can actively try to incorporate in your day to increase your happiness?
Today the things that make me happy are the sunshine, singing to my plants while I water them, and the warm coffee I drank this morning (and will probably drink again in the afternoon). Feel free to share your 3 (or more) things in the comments below to share some happiness! XO