The “De-Stress This Mess” Challenge:
I want to challenge you to turn your own spiritual practice and mindfulness up a notch in your own personal life. Why? This will undoubtedly trickle down into your therapy practice and family life, with not only you benefiting, but everyone around you benefiting as well.
You will find that spark of childhood wonder again. I promise.
De-Stress This Message 7 day Challenge
Try these simple mindfulness and stress reduction activities for 7 days.
If you try these simple activities for just one week, you will notice a difference.
- Limit device use. Reduce your engagement on your device by half. I recommend telling you family and friends you will be checking your device 3 times a day. Morning, afternoon, and early evening. Return messages, texts, and social communication at that time. If they need you right away, tell them to call you.
- Stop 3 times each day and focus on your breath for 1 minute. I recommend lumping breath check-in with device check-in. Three times a day.
- Take a walk for 10 minutes. To get a healthy snack, to buy a magazine, to observe a garden or get fresh air and sunshine. Do something you enjoy. No device.
- Call one friend during the week. No text.
- Set aside one evening, approximately 2 hours, to relax. Prepare to relax ahead of time by brewing tea or coffee, getting a good book from the library, taking out cozy blankets, or setting up a bath. You may find that by reducing social media engagement you will actually have more time in your day to relax. This week, commit to relaxing one evening only.
If you miss a day or a few days just add more days until you get to 7. Be easy on yourself, but try to do it for as many days in a row that you can.
My experience: “De-Stress This Mess” Challenge.
De-stress this mess, is all about the mess in my thoughts, house, and schedule. It was starting to look like a tangle, chaotic and overwhelming. I needed to focus. I needed to de-stress. Life was not working well.
Of course, everyday, I strive to be mindful of my choices. It’s easiest, of course, when I turn off the devices and don’t over-schedule. As a mom, if I am grounded and centered, the day goes better. As a occupational therapist, it’s the same deal. I can work with my clients more efficiently when I am calm, centered and focused.
I started to wondered if other moms and therapists used spirituality in their daily lives to de-stress. IF they did, how did they do it? In an age where religion and spiritual practice is markedly less evident than the generation of our parents, how were we making it through the day as grounded as our parents? Were we really doing the work as occupational therapists from a grounded place? Was I doing a good job at mothering?
I was looking for answers to some of these very questions when I saw that the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association was hosting an upcoming workshop titled “Spirituality in Occupational Therapy.” So I went.
I was amazed when I got to the workshop! As it turns out, I am not the only mom, or for that matter, therapist, that thinks spirituality is an important part of the daily grind. In fact, many of us use it as a coping mechanism, a regular component of our dealings with family and clients alike, and as a buffer to the outside world. When surveyed at the Duquesne University Annual Celebration 2017, during the presentation by clinical scholars studying “cultural responsiveness in current occupational therapy practice”, greater than 80% of therapists reported that they used some form of religion or spirituality during their daily therapy sessions.
As a mother, I often see and hear moms talking about being calm and having the ability to deal with difficult parenting situations. One of the biggest topics on mom blogs and during play-date water cooler talk is how to motivate their kids without yelling! Moms want to know how to live with intention, be more efficient, and be more helpful for their families. They want to feel grounded instead of scattered in a thousand directions. Moms want answers – even moms who feel they are doing a good job. They want to know how to be most efficient, creative and calm.
Moms want to enjoy the bonds they have with their kids. Sometimes, parents are so over-scheduled that they barely remember the amazing connection they once had with their children when they were smaller. There is just so little time and so many more distractions than ever before. Parents want to make life simple. They want to hug their kids, before their kids are grown.
I started to ask the questions about my daily spirituality.
Do we engage with Spirit?
Do we allow ourselves the time to relax and have our ease?
Are we addicted to stress ?
Do we force our patients to do exercises and programs simply because they are billable?
Do we ask our know what gives our kids meaning in their daily life?
In all of these questions I have a hunch that as therapists we do remember spirit in our work. Actually, it’s what drives to help others! We are quite smart when it comes to all things spiritual as a profession in general. However, it’s always good to get a reminder to engage with our own spirituality on a daily basis in our lives outside of work as well. This type of self-care is an ever-present need for us to attend to, so we don’t burn out.
The same goes to all of us as moms. We work and work all day, and need to keep our ease about things. It prevents burn out, health problems, and yelling. Our whole family benefits when we take some time to de-stress and feed our spirit.
The workshop “Spirituality and Occupational Therapy” strongly affirmed the basic need for spirituality in daily life. Occupational science is based on the mind-body-spirit paradigm with whole theoretical models based on this paradigm. The presenter, Rebecca Austill-Clausen, drew attention to this basic premise in occupational therapy, much to my delight. It’s what drew me to the profession in the first place.
The Rewarding Results of De-stressing the Mess!
What results is joy. More joy with family and friends. More joy at work. More joy in our heart! And choices that result in even more joy!
To tell you a little about what I do for a mindful practice, each morning I start my day with a calming CD. Honestly, without it, I don’t have very productive or calm days. I have noticed a true quantifiable difference. I have also set device limits. I check no more than 3 times a day. My thoughts are more present and not in cyber-mind space. I have time to give hugs and kisses to my kids.
Finally, I have worked to reconnect with nature and relax as a part of my weekly routine. To take a walk, stop near a stream or enjoy a sunset. Less distraction overall has allowed me to experience nature in a more vibrant way.
The results have been wonderful. I feel like I have regained my sense of direction, with more time in each day, more hope that things will be good, and more self care.
There’s no need to journal. You’ll feel the difference and it won’t be easy to forget. You might even decide that you want to continue your 13 Minute “Feel Good” practice well into the future. I hope it will help you as much as it did me.
About Rebecca Austill-Clausen:
During the workshop, Ms. Austill-Clausen further reviewed AOTA’s definition of spirituality as “the aspect of humanity that refers to the way an individual seeks and expressed meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connection to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.” Additionally, the 2005 AOTA Position Paper states that “occupational therapy can use complementary modalities in preparation for an occupational therapy treatment session.” In terms of Occupational Therapy, we are literally swimming in a sea of possibility in how we engage with spirit as therapists.
……… Living from a place of authenticity makes her an obvious example of spirituality in action.
To learn more about Rebecca or her new book, click learn more.