One of the things that has been a struggle for me over the past several years when I started fieldwork and real work was being able to go home, not be stressed, and separate from the previous 8+ hours. Being in a caring profession and also wanting to please the people around me, I often had excess stress that made me worry about burning out. I felt like I was good at hospital OT, but it was hard not to carry the stress with me constantly. Acute care has a very short timeframe- everyone needs something from you and needs it NOW. Today. Yesterday. And you are with people during what is frequently an awful time of their life, and not all of them are going to be OK. It's really hard for me to separate from that.
So in that respect, the school system is much better for me in that the timeframes are much longer- if I miss a day I can make things up in the coming weeks. There are still heartwrenching stories, but I feel like I'm having a more positive effect to help balance it out.
The other assist in this balancing act has been taking some advice to have positive outlets outside of work (and for me that often includes the blog) that require some effort and concentration and help with the stress. So despite being the self-described "least crafty OT" I have taken up some crafts as a way to create something and enjoy myself in another way.
I made these scarves over the summer. I had a t-shirt day where I made 2 scarves and one terrible vest. The pink one required actual use of a pattern and sewing machine, so I felt really accomplished.
I was very surprised at how quickly this arrangement came together. They're all silks for my front porch and though I brought out Christmas colors before Halloween, it was fun. I like having a little extra color out there and hopefully will change it out in the springtime.
This is one of my favorite things, and it was so easy. I printed out an 8x10 of a beach photo I had taken and used double sided tape to secure a perfect sand dollar I found a few years ago.
The other project I did over the summer was making a board book for my son. I had no idea that you could buy blank board books, but you can for pretty cheap! Then I went to an office store and had pictures printed on full page labels, and just stuck the pictures on the pages. So simple, and yet it gets lots of compliments and he enjoys looking at the family photos.
As much as I enjoy my brain games (crosswords, sudoku, etc) and my OT pursuits (including the blog), having a more physical and tangible task has been better for my mental health. There's tons of research on the ill effects of too much screen time, too much Facebook time, etc and that is an easy rut to fall into when you're tired from working and caregiving. But I hope this is a change that I can continue so that I have continued growth in my own mental health as a member of a very caregiving profession. I'm always going to care about my kids and carry some of their stories with me outside of our time together. But being able to set it aside in a box is crucial to going on with the rest of my life.