This paper is divided into four sections, which all required me to reflect in different ways. Specifically, this paper focuses on my occupations that I engage in on a regular basis and how they relate to my overall health and well-being. In class, we used multiple methods to look at our own occupational balance and how it affects well-being keeping Stage 1 and II skills in mind. I found that my reflections related to other classes that I have taken at College, including Abnormal Psychology and Sociology of Aging. These classes, as well as Individual and Group, help me to see how environments and contextual factors influence our health, well-being, and occupational participation throughout life.
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Prior to completing the occupational configuration pie chart, I expected to spend the majority of my time engaging in educational occupations. I expected that as a full time student, I would spend most of my time engaging in activities like participating in class, studying, doing schoolwork, and attending events specific to my education. I expected that another big part of my time would be spent doing activities of daily living. Every day, I participate in things like getting dressed and using the bathroom among other daily activities.
As shown in Graph 1, I was correct in thinking the majority of my time would be spent engaging in educational occupations. I found that educational occupations had the highest percentage of time spent daily making up 30% of my day. I was surprised that my leisure time was as low as it was. Leisure consisted of 2% of my day. I think the day I looked at had an abnormally low amount of leisure time and I believe leisure would be different day to day with higher percentages. During my day, I tend to multitask so in a given day, leisure is probably incorporated into my day while doing other things. Other factors that would change the percent of leisure or sleep/rest time would be how much homework I have, if my classes are earlier or later in the day, if I have work, and/or if it’s a weekend versus a weekday.
I believe I am more or less self-aware of my occupational configuration and how I spend my time, because my predictions of what I spend the most time doing versus the least time doing were correct. I was not overly surprised by the results of the pie chart.
I am not fully satisfied with the balance of my occupational configuration. There are parts of my life that are important to me and my occupational balance that I wish I was spending more of my time participating in. The major category I feel least satisfied in is social participation. Although my day consists of a lot of people interaction, and I am surrounded by friends from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep, I believe I am not actively engaging during these moments and getting a full appreciation for the people around me. Most of the time when I am surrounded by people, it is because our classes or schoolwork are allowing us to engage. Instead of partaking in personal and meaningful conversation, I feel that most of my social interactions are due to school. I would like to have more leisure time and less time spent on education. I think that mentally I would feel less down or stressed if I had more social interactions in my life. Being a full time college student, I understand this is not always an ideal lifestyle to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, especially during an intense program that requires me to take class Monday through Friday.
I think that engaging in different occupations, in a balanced or unbalanced way, contributes to the positives or negative effects to your overall health and well-being. Having balance in meaningful activities promote the positive effects to your health and well-being which can lead to both better health physically and mentally. During my days, I have had really good weeks and really bad weeks- in terms of how busy I am during my days. During good weeks, I get an adequate amount of sleep, about 8 hours. I wake up and get ready for school. I have time after classes to put away my books and hang out with friends, with enough time to complete the next day’s assignments. On unbalanced days, my day is nonstop from beginning to end where I feel like I cannot even think. For example, I wake up, rush to school, attend back to back classes, then attend a work meeting during my lunch hour, attend more classes and by the end of the day, I’m loaded with homework. I think it is very important, especially as a college student, to find balance in all areas of your life so one or two things don’t consume the majority of your time. It is important to get enough sleep to engage in all occupations to the best of your ability. Lack of sleep negatively impacts health and well-being and doesn’t make you feel the best you can. As a college student, it is my job to learn and do schoolwork. I think I have occupational balance in my life and my occupational configuration positively affects my well-being. Education, work, and sleep/rest were just about the same percentage, which shows I do not spend too much time in just one activity, which I think is important for a healthy lifestyle.
One limitation of this occupational configuration activity is that every day is different. Specifically, during this activity, I looked at my Tuesday schedule. My Monday and Tuesday schedule tends to be busier than the rest of my week. Each day for me is difference, so I think my pie chart would look tremendously different on a Tuesday schedule compared to a Sunday schedule. One strength of this activity is that after completing it, you can see if what you spend the most and least time doing. This could help you balance your life to positively affect your health and well-being. After looking at your averages, you could find a better system for your schedule and rebalance your time in the future.
I think this activity could be both useful and beneficial with future clients as I enter my career as an occupational therapist. I could figure out what occupations are most meaningful to clients and focus on helping the client fulfill their goals in that particular area. I could also help a struggling client reorganize and redistribute their time to make their life more satisfying. To modify the client’s occupational configuration, I may ask them about their daily life and what activities they participate. Questions regarding their happiness would be beneficial to me as a therapist to gear our time together in the direction that would make them the happiest. This would help me to get an idea of what is most important for my client per diem. It would help me see how I can help them modify their schedule to fit in a more satisfying way.
Lifestyle Performance Profile
Compared to the occupational configuration activity, this exercise deepened my understanding of my lifestyle and how I spend my time. This exercise was more realistic, more fluid, and more diverse. Instead of looking at one 24-hour period, I was able to look at my life as a whole. While completing this exercise, my occupations fell into different domains. I could think more about why I do the activities I do, think about what is working and what is not during my day to day life, and think about what occupations I would like to do differently. Another important aspect of this experience was I could truly see how satisfied I was with my life, as a whole and as smaller parts, in addition to, how satisfied I am with the amount of time I spend doing each occupation.
When thinking about how satisfied I am with the balance of my lifestyle in all four domains, I would say I have a rather balanced lifestyle domain. I have decent balance while looking at the activities are participate in, self-management, and my relationships. Although my lifestyle as a whole seems relatively balanced, I realized I was not fully satisfied with all of my domains equally. In all four domains, I think I could do a little more and a little better.
When it came to self-care and maintenance, I often find myself indulging in easy foods rather than nutritious foods. These types of food are easier during a busier schedule. Similarly, when my life gets hectic, I find myself pushing off working out rather than making it a priority. Looking at my societal contribution, I do things in the community that make me feel like I give back which include, volunteering at local rest homes, volunteering for activities within the church, and teaching local Zumba classes. Although I have volunteer experience, I wish I had more time to participate in more volunteer opportunities in the communities I am a part of.
The activities that I do for personal enjoyment and pleasure was lacking. Because I am a full time college student. Sometimes I find it really hard to make time strictly form myself. I find myself spending most of my time engaging in educational activities, or catching up on rest during my free time. I like to save as much time on the weekends for fun but often I get too overwhelmed thinking of the work I could be doing instead. I find that creating a balance between work and personal enjoyment is one of the harder schedule adjustments.
Lastly, the domain I find most important is my relationship with others. My family is and always will be my biggest supporter and happiest moments. Again, due to me being a college student, I am not able to see my family as much as I would like to. My friendships are not as strong as I would like them to be. When I first started college, I found myself changing and becoming more of the person I have always aspired to be which meant leaving behind people that hindered my progress. I have lost friends and have made friends, but I do not feel fully happy with these relationships.
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Completing the Lifestyle Performance Profile helped me gain insight on how it both looks and feels to be the client. With the upcoming Fieldwork I experience, or in future practice as an occupational therapist, I now feel like I can help a client feel more comfortable. I can adjust my tone of voice and body language to make the client feel they can trust me. As both a student and a future therapist, I think it is best for me to start by using a script to make sure I hit all necessary points when interviewing the client. Doing this activity, it was clear to me that as the client, I did not want the interviewer to read off a piece of paper, rather I liked a fluid conversation. A more conversational and casual discussion may be the best option for an occupational therapist when structuring an interview.
One limitation of conducting a Lifestyle Performance Interview with a client might be that you may not get answers at all for some questions, or you may get responses lacking detail. A client may not be willing to disclose too much personal information because the occupational therapist is someone they just met. They may feel judged which may result in unanswered questions or untruthful answers. When deciding how to do this data gathering with clients, it is best to understand the client’s past medical and personal experiences.
Some strengths of conducting a Lifestyle Performance interview with a client includes the idea that an occupational therapist will get a better look at how the client chooses to spend their time, what parts of their life they are satisfied with and what parts they are not satisfied with. When establishing a relationship with the client, as well as creating goals and a plan for the client, this information will be beneficial for the occupational therapist. This experience is also beneficial for the client because the client can look at their own life and think about what satisfies them. They may be able to learn something about themselves that they did not know before and may be more reciprocal. Lastly, by doing this the client will be able to choose, or not choose to take action to make adjust things in their lives to make them for happy.
During Fieldwork, it will be important for me to keep in mind a couple things about whether or how to do this type of data gathering with clients. By participating in this experience, I now know it is important during the interview that I conduct, to be an active listener, not get too personal, be mindful of how the interviewee may feel, find balance of what is too much for the client, ask the right follow up questions, be empathetic, show interest, change tone of voice depending on the interview vibe, and phrase questions in a curious, rather than judgmental way. Other things I can do to make the interview the best it can be is asking staff members questions if I need additional information and it will be important for me to practice stage 1 and 2 skills.
The occupational configuration activity helped me to think about my own personal balance on a daily basis. According to my pie chart, 30% of my days are spent doing things involving my education- whether that be class, homework, and/or studying. Rest and sleep was almost equal to the amount of time I spend on educational activities, representing 27% of my days while sleep was about 20% of my day.
Looking at this pie chart and analyzing these numbers, it may look like my day is balanced, give or take. After completing the pie chart, and then looking deeper into each domain with the Lifestyle Performance Profile, it is evident that although my life may seem balanced, it may not be as satisfying as one may think. The Lifestyle Performance Profile compared to the occupational configuration explains my specific personal imbalance more in depth. Because it looked at my life more broadly, it was clear what things are meaningful to me and what things created the most happiness in life. I think that personal balance is important especially for college students. When life becomes unbalanced, it is essential to adjust things in your life to make it more balanced. A balanced lifestyle creates a better environment to live in because our lives can easily be controlled by school, work, and stress. Balance is needed in order to manage that and will positively affect your health and well-being.
Achieving a personal balance that I’m satisfied with contributes to my overall health and well-being because it helps lower my stress levels. Schoolwork can be mentally draining, and if I do schoolwork or other educational activities for the majority of your days, I feel overwhelmed and stressed. I know that I need to take a break every so often and let myself do something I enjoy. It is proven that “breaking up active participation in occupation with rest contributes to health” (Willard & Schell, 2014, p. 76). Taking breaks also helps improve memory, which is helpful to me as a student when I am studying for exams and trying to memorize a lot of information at once. Sometimes to take a break, I will socialize with my housemates, get a snack, or watch an episode of The Fosters on Netflix. I know the breaks, short or long, will help me readjust my mindset. These breaks will get my mind off of stress and work. Oftentimes when I take a break during schoolwork, I feel more positive and motivated afterwards. Another essential part of personal balance is sleep. I need to an adequate amount of sleep in order for me to feel my best and perform my best in any activity I do. My well-being the next day is negatively affected if I do not sleep well the night before or if I do not get 7-9 hours of sleep. For me, achieving personal balance also means finding the right amount of time to do schoolwork, work a job for income, spend time with friends, and have alone time to relax. If I have too much of one area, I tend to not feel my best mentally and physically.
Engaging in Occupations
My own occupational performance and engagement is affected by contextual and environmental factors due to how I factor and facilitate my time. From the occupational configuration activity, and viewing my pie chart, I learned that the most of my day is spent doing things surrounding my education or in the area of sleeping or resting. One environmental factor that helps me to achieve the activities that were in my education category is accessibility, such as being able to walk or drive easily to my classes on paved roads and sidewalks, as well as being able to live very close to campus. This positively supports my occupational performance on a daily basis because it does not take long for me to get to class from home, meaning I can spend that commute time on other areas of my day such as sleeping in later or eating breakfast in the morning.
Throughout my time at Ithaca College, I have taken one psychology course, one anthropology course and one sociology course that have helped me when thinking about the relationship between contextual and environmental factors, occupational engagement and participation, as well as my own health and well-being. In my Abnormal Psychology class, I learned about human behavior that deviates from the “norm” and how certain diseases brought about by environmental factors can influence people’s health and well-being, as well as their occupational engagement. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder that we learned about, that causes withdrawal from family and other relationships, depression, anxiety, nightmares, and recurring thoughts and memories related to the traumatic event (Comer, 2014). Having PTSD can influence individual’s engagement in occupations because of those symptoms, which can negatively impact well-being due to social withdrawal and less desire to participate in activities.
- Comer, R.J. (2014). Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology, 7 edition. Worth.
- Hocking, C. (2014). Contribution of occupation to health and well-being. In B.A. Boyt Schell, G. Gillen, & M.E. Scaffa (Eds.), Willard & Spackman’s Occupational Therapy (72-81). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Hudson, R. B. (2016). Cumulative advantage and disadvantage: Across the life course, across generations.
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