Gaynor Appleby, Occupational Therapist and Mental Health Trainer discusses how to stay mentally healthy in times of diversity

Gaynor Appleby, Occupational Therapist and Mental Health Trainer discusses how to stay mentally healthy in times of diversity

There is a lot of information out there about how to keep mentally healthy in times of adversity. Being an Occupational Therapist (OT) my philosophy is we need purposeful activity (occupation) through routine. In OT language “habituation” to give us our self identity and belonging, thus contentment.. So this said, if we are not doing/connecting to our normal routine and activity we lose our ‘self’.

So what is happening now through Covid-19 to our sense of ‘self’ ? The answer… ‘occupational disruption’ (more OT language!).    

Occupational disruption can come after any life changing event be it an accident, that has affected us physically and or mentally. For example, a loss in our lives, be it a death, divorce, loss of a job through redundancy or even retirement. 

This is when we need to consider Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapy is a recovery pathway (outlined above), which once understood, can be a skill that can help you, not just now through Covid-19 lock down but a tool to keep throughout our lives.

Your Plan

1. Accept that for the time being, you are unable to do some of your occupations and activities. You cannot change this, learn to put this to one side, be thankful. You will be able to engage in these again when things return to normal. Log how you are feeling now.

2. What can I do instead? Make a list of activities/occupations. Take time doing this, then pick the ones which would be more meaningful to you.

3.  Plan exactly a time when you are going to start this new activity e.g. 10am everyday, and stick to it!

4. Review in a week to see how you feel.

Finally consideration in the wider context…try not to keep looking at the news, this can also cause occupational disruption. Yes we need to know updates but how many times a day do you need to be looking for them? Consider this, and take a break from this to concentrate on ‘You’.

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