Coping with stress: the good, the bad, and the ugly occupations we find useful

Last week was men’s health week and the theme this year was ‘dealing with stress’. We had an exciting week of activities at the centre for people who are homeless I am currently working at. For one of the Occupational Therapy led sessions we focused upon how to deal with stress through the use of occupation. Within this session group members were encouraged to put their ways of coping into a collage of either pictures or words.

Participants were informed that there was no right or wrong and encouraged to think of as wide a range of occupations as possible to outline their coping mechanisms. We chatted and by the end were joking that we must include the good, the bad, and the ugly things we do to cope through stressful situations. This generated lot’s of discussion and some people were able to see how their coping style’s had changed over the years and dependent on circumstances.

As an OT I like to view all activity that holds a purpose to individuals as meaningful occupation. So often we can get the impression that it is bad to engage in occupations such as self-harm, graffiti, and smoking; to name but a few. I often wonder how many people could really say they have never found these less accepted strategies genuine ways of coping and a way to get through some of the stressful situations that life brings.

This group allowed us to encourage the more healthy ways of coping and some people mentioned that they would try idea’s other people mentioned such as listening to music, walking, and going to the free local gym sessions. The most positive thing about the session was seeing people learning from their peers and thinking of new ways to cope. Every one who participated brought a new idea and generated discussion making for an interesting and social afternoon.

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