Occupational Therapy and Stress Management

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By Tess Thompson

Technically, occupational therapy involves the use of meaningful activities of daily life to enable or encourage participation among some people in spite of physical or emotional impairments. It is a form of treatment that helps people achieve independence, regardless of their limited physical or mental functions. It offers, to children and adults alike, a platform to use activities that enable them to improve their cognitive abilities and motor skills. Occupational therapy therefore helps in providing a sense of accomplishment and raising self-esteem.

Occupational therapy can play an important role in rehabilitating people with:

  • Congenital disorders.
  • Psychological disorders and developmental disorders.
  • Physical injuries.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Head injuries, traumatic amputations and orthopedic injuries, including post traumatic stress.
  • Any other physical, genetic or psychological disorder that hampers normal physical and mental functioning.

Occupational therapy and stress management are complementary to each other. Although occupational therapy focuses on independence, stress management is equally crucial for functioning effectively in society, since people undergoing occupational therapy can sometimes find it extremely frustrating and stressful to try and master the art of performing some basic functions that other people can accomplish very easily.

Occupational therapy is also provided for rehabilitation following drug abuse. Some people take to alcohol or drugs initially to escape from stress, but later find that the course that they chose becomes a cause for further stress. Coping with stress thus becomes extremely important for such people.

While it may be possible to teach the techniques of positive thinking to relieve stress to those with physical disabilities, teaching the same to those being rehabilitated for emotional problems may be extremely tiring and difficult. It is thus not possible for an occupational therapist to make use of all the tools available, and he may have to restrict himself to breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, creative visualization and fun ways for stress relief.

The basis of occupational therapy is that occupation has a positive affect on health and wellness. It also gives meaning to life, since there is a value attached to different occupations. Initially, the philosophy was based on the old fundamental ideologies of pragmatism and humanism. The underlying philosophy of diversion from illness has now developed into a therapy for enabling proper functioning and allows amalgamation in society through meaningful occupation. Stress management in such cases follows naturally as an integral part.



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