Throughout our OT training at university, we use occupational science to underpin the context in which we work. Improving the health and wellbeing of those around us through engagement in meaningful occupations. I know I’ve written that sentence in at least 3 essays before.

We learn to pull down the occupational lens over our eyes and explore the world, its structure, its balance. This lens is something we pack up and keep with us when we take those first qualified steps towards our first patient where we feel like we hold all the responsibility.

As is our nature, we are quick to jump in and help those around us, sometimes to the detriment of our own wellbeing. We are happy to put on the occupational lens to improve others, yet are we so keen – or even able – to turn this lens around and have a look at the perspective from our own outsider point of view?

It may feel selfish, or maybe not now that the global pandemic has given us the opportunity, to take a few moments and reflect on what is meaningful to us; seize the opportunity regardless. Advocate for your inner self and find that balance.

The balance is dynamic and will change and adapt, just as we do, across our first year of qualified working. My self-care practices were non-existent when I entered my first year – to confirm, I still showered.

The balance had become imbalanced, leaning heavily towards working when I wasn’t at work. My mind would still be on the ward worrying whilst my body was stood in my kitchen at home. Now? I have learnt to switch off when I walk through the front door, tuck myself in with Netflix and a de-caff cuppa. It seems I have found more balance to the imbalance a first year brings.

At the end of my first year, I have learnt what works for me. It was not what worked for me at the beginning, and it may not be what works for me in another year’s time, but it’ll do for now.

          Written by Stephanie Exley

          Image by Stephanie Exley

This project is funded by the Elizabeth Casson Trust. If you’d like to learn more about the project you can do so via this link and the team behind it here

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