Mental health is a state of well-being, and we all have it.
Mental health is about more than being happy all the time. It’s about feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life, and managing life’s highs and lows. We might have a mental illness, and we might not. Either way, we can all feel well. We can all have good mental health.
This May 6th to 12th, you can #GetLoud about what mental health really is. Research shows that there are six common features of good mental health: a sense of self, a sense of purpose, of belonging, contribution, enjoyment and resilience. Here are some examples of what mental health looks like to Canadians:
- I don’t worry too much about what people think of me.
- I feel like I’m reaching my potential.
- I feel like I belong.
- I make the world a better place.
- I enjoy my life.
- Knock me down and I’ll get back up again.
Visit https://mentalhealthweek.ca/ for more information on CMHA’s 2019 Mental Health Week.
How can we help?
OT Works! helps clients with their mental health. We have significant experience working with individuals with mental health challenges
such as depression, anxiety after an accident or concussion. Here are some examples of services we can provide:
- Behavioural Activation
- Cognitive therapy
- Exposure Therapy
- Mindfulness Strategies
- Assistance Daily Living
- Graduated Return-to-Work support
Some of our OTs focus their practice around mental health Find out more at https://www.ot-works.com/about/the-team/ or call us at 604-696-1066.
- Mental Health Checklist – https://mentalhealthweek.ca/check-in-on-your-mental-health/
- “How is mental health like physical health?” – https://mentalhealthweek.ca/how-is-mental-health-like-physical-health/
- “16 strategies to help you thrive” – https://mentalhealthweek.ca/16-strategies-to-help-you-thrive/
As community OTs, we journey alongside many Canadians in the Lower Mainland. Last May, we extended our commitment to better health with the global community by participating in the Run for Water in Abbotsford, BC. We are excited to share that we will put on our runners and grab our water bottles again this May 26th for the 2019 Run for Water!
Learn more and join the movement for clean water, visit
An effective workspace is essential to feeling well at work and wherever else. Ergonomic changes to your workspace promote good posture and contribute to physical wellbeing. They also allow better efficiency with tasks. Consider the ergonomic recommendations below and seek professional help from a registered occupational therapist if you need more help.
Consider the following:
- Are you sitting up straight?
- Are your shoulders relaxed?
- Are you leaning forward, creating tension in your back?
- The height of your chair.
- Are your forearms horizontal, your wrists straight, and your thighs at a 90 – 110 degree angle at the hips?
- Does the lower part of your backrest support the curve of your back?
- Do you have armrests, to decrease the strain on your back and neck?
- Your computer monitor.
- Is the top line of text on the screen at eye level?
- Is the screen an arm’s length away from your eyes?
- Do you need to adjust the contrast, brightness, or font size on the screen?
- Your visual needs.
- WorkSafe BC has a list of information to share with your ophthalmologist or optometrist regarding your desk and computer work.
- Do you need to lower the overhead light levels to prevent glare?
- Do you need to move your desk lamp (to the opposing side to your dominant hand)?
- Your work area organization.
- Are frequently used items close to you (within a 30 cm reach)?
- Are occasionally used items within an arm’s reach to you (within a within a 50 cm reach)?
- Are any rarely used items put away or set further aside?
- Your phone set up.
- Do you use a headset or speakerphone to avoid awkward neck positions?
Take short breaks (20 sec. to 2 min.) to allow your muscles to rest between repetitive activities. On longer breaks, stand up and walk around so that you use different muscles than while sitting. Try basic exercises like these here or here to help you prevent strains at work.
You may find an ergonomic assessment by an OT to help address any issues you have. Contact us and we will be happy to have an occupational therapist come to you.
Phone: 604.696.1066 ext 1000
- “Ergonomics & Computer Use.” University Health Services at Princeton University. https://uhs.princeton.edu/health-resources/ergonomics-computer-use
- “Office Ergonomics.” HealthLink BC. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/tr5915
- “How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You.” WorkSafeBC. https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/health-safety/books-guides/how-to-make-your-computer-workstation-fit-you
Welcome Jaclyn Forsythe and Nicole Chan to the OT Works! team. They provide community OT services helping clients with musculoskeletal and orthopaedic injuries as well as mental health issues and mixed diagnoses. They work with clients following motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries with a focus function and return-to-work.
Nicole is passionate about community-based rehabilitation. She meets her clients where they are at in their recovery and her treatment solutions are insightful, creative and individualized.
Jaclyn organizes and simplifies complex situations to produce meaningful results. She has experience with chronic pain with a focus on return-to-function and return-to-work.
Like all of our therapists, Nicole and Jaclyn, are full registrants and in good standing with the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia (COTBC).
OT Works! takes the SMART approach to goal setting. We help our clients clearly define their goals and put steps in place so that they can achieve them. Using approaches similar to ours, you can successfully maintain your New Years’ resolution.
Occupational therapy is goal-oriented. Our clients may want to bear a certain weight with their arms. They may work towards returning to work full-time. Perhaps, they want to be able to go about their daily routines as independently as possible. We use SMART goal-planning to make that happen. It is a popular technique that works for many.
If your goal is unrelated to the examples above, that is okay. Try this method out and maybe you will achieve your goal too.
Setting Up Your Goal
- Your goal should be well defined and clear.
- Ask yourself:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- Why am I pursuing this goal?
- Who is involved?
- Where is my goal, or where will I work towards obtaining it?
- Which resources do I need and which barriers do I face?
- When will I start? When will I meet my goal?
- Know how far you are from completing your goal.
- Ask yourself:
- How much or how many do I need?
- How will you know once you have achieved your goal?
- Your support network can help motivate you so that you aren’t overwhelmed.
- Ask yourself:
- Are those people who can help me (such as friends, family, health professionals, and/or employers) aware of my goal?
- What resources or support can they provide?
Realistic and Relevant
- Be honest with yourself.
- Ask yourself:
- Do I have the resources, knowledge and support to achieve my goal?
- Does my goal support my current or future needs?
- Check that you have the right amount of time
(not too much, not too little) to achieve your goal.
- Ask yourself:
- When will I aim to accomplish my goal?
- What steps will I take along the way?
- What can I do today?
Besides SMART goals, some therapists at OT Works! are trained in the Progressive Goal Attainment Program. To deliver PGAP services, occupational therapists require additional training and a certificate. PGAP is an evidence-based program that reduces the barriers of disability by specifically targeting the psychological and social obstacles clients face. PGAP aims to increase a client’s quality of life and to assist them with their return to work. If you would like to inquire further about PGAP, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SMART Goals – https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php
- SMART Goals – https://www.drjulieconnor.com/smart-personal-goals/
- PGAP – https://www.pgapworks.com/en/index.php
- For more information about our OT Works! therapists can help you achieve your health-related goals, visit https://www.ot-works.com
As 2018 draws to a close, we reflects on how we have grown as a team and as a part of our wider community this past year. This year we welcomed four new occupational therapists and a new communications coordinator to our team. We have become better acquainted with the strengths and passions of each OT Work! team member in our regular social events, professional development sessions, and expanding range of rehab services.
In 2019 we look forward to creating new memories, walking alongside our current and future customers and clients, and continuing to learn and grow.
From our families to yours, we wish you a Happy Holidays, and a Joyous New Year!
The holiday season is a time of joy and connection with others, but it can also be a stressful time of year. With shorter days and darker weather, the holidays can also bring lengthy to-do lists, and crowded activities and limited time to relax and share meaningful moments with family and friends. Practicing mindfulness can help alleviate the winter blues and better prepare you for the holiday season. Mindfulness can help you enjoy the seasonal changes and let go of holiday stress and channel your attention towards the current tasks at hand.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the intentional practice of letting go of stress and pain and letting yourself experience what is happening right here and now. The intention is to mentally let go of things that distract you from what you are doing. Mindfulness is often about letting go of our to-do-list tasks, expectations and worries so that you can focus completely on what you are doing in the present moment.
Mindfulness is one strategies that an occupational therapist can help you make activities more approachable, especially those that have become stressful since an illness or injury.
Try It Out!
The more you remember to return your attention to the present moment in this exercise, the easier it will be to do so during a real-life moment, when your attachment to thinking or worrying creates unnecessary stress. Randy McVeigh, an occupational therapist with OT Works!, has 11 years of experience practicing mindfulness. Here is one of Randy’s approaches to mindfulness for the holidays: Sound meditation.
- Set a timer: Decide how long you will practice the mindfulness exercise for. Consider aiming for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.
- Get comfortable: Sit in an upright position on a chair or couch; try to find a position in which you can feel comfortable, yet alert
- Breathe: Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Feeling your belly expand and contract as you inhale and exhale
- Listen: Notice the sounds in the environment around you. You may be able to hear the sound of cars outside, your refrigerator humming, neighbours talking, or any multitude of other things. Or, you may hear silence.
- Notice and observe: Try to just notice the quality of the sounds you are hearing, without getting caught up in thinking about what they mean. For instance, if you hear a dog bark, pay attention to the sound of the bark, without thinking about whose dog it is and what the dog is barking at. We are trying to practice keeping our attention “present” to the on-going sensation of sound, rather than getting lost in thinking about sound. This is easier said than done! Most people will get distracted many times when meditating for 5 minutes. That’s normal! Don’t try to stifle thought. Just acknowledge when you have been distracted by thought, and practice gently returning your attention to the sounds.
- Notice your feelings: You may find yourself enjoying listening to the sounds. If you are startled or irritated by a particular sound, just notice this feeling the sound has created in you, and return your attention to the sound
- Focus again on your breath: Return your attention to your breathing. Take 5 deep breaths, noticing the feeling of the air going in and out.
- Return: When your timer alerts you, or when you are ready, gently open your eyes. Take a moment and observe your environment (sounds, smells, sights). Notice how your body feels right. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. This exercise isn’t about the mindfulness meditation itself, it’s about building a skill that you can take out into the world. You can develop both concentration and awareness so you’re able to more frequently recognize what’s happening right now, make more intentional decisions about where your attention should be, and respond to daily situations in a more skillful way.
- Why should you practice mindfulness? Learn the benefits at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition#why-practice.
- How does mindfulness work? Learn about its mechanisms of action at http://www.mindfulnessinstitute.ca/the-science/
- Practice gratitude this holiday season! Visit https://www.mindful.org/a-simple-mindful-gratitude-exercise/ for mindful techniques to raise your mood and spread happiness.
- The BC Crisis Centre is a resource for residents of British Columbia. Check out their recommendations for mindful practice at https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/mindfulness/.
The Project Change Foundation held its annual award and fundraising event on November 22, 2018. Project Change provides small grants and other support to new or emerging charities with a clear vision for improving their communities or the environment. This year’s PCF grant recipient is Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association. Previous recipients: The Lipstick Project, Community First Foundation, and Binners’ Project.
OT Works! is a proud sponsor of the local Vancouver non-profit organization Project Change Foundation. Change is central to the philosophy of occupational therapy and our therapists facilitate change to promote health and recovery. Pamela and Jason attended the Project Change event and panel discussion on “Living Your Best Life: Ideas For Unleashing Your Full Potential”. We were inspired by the ideas and wisdom shared by the panel.
Learn more about the Project Change Foundation and the Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association.
You can learn more about approaches to restorative justice here.
Everyone experiences a fall now and then. While most falls do not cause serious injury, occasionally we are reminded of how even a simple fall from standing can be catastrophic. Falls are especially devastating among older adults causing over 90% of hip fractures and 60% of head injuries. In fact, on average, every 10 minutes a senior is hospitalized because of a fall.
Some people believe that falls are a normal part of aging and can’t be prevented, or that it won’t happen to them. The truth is: There are many things you can do to prevent falls. Many risk factors are within our control to change.
What can you do to help prevent falls?
- Keep your body active: You are less likely to fall if you have strong muscles and good balance.
- Have your eyes checked by an optometrist once a year: Good vision can reduce your risk of falling.
- Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications: Some medications can make you feel drowsy, dizzy, or unsteady on your feet.
- Make your home safer: Falls are often due to home hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix
For more information about falls prevention go to www.findingbalancebc.ca.
How OT Can Help Prevent Falls
Occupational Therapists often addresses fall prevention as an important step towards preventing further injury. An occupational therapist can support you to carry out activities that you enjoy or want to do safely through:
- Advice, ideas and equipment
- Advice to improve strength and balance
- Support to talk through any fear of falling
OTs manage your underlying fall risk factors and optimize your home design and environment. In the initial assessment, an OT can assess your home and other places you frequent. The goal is to be as safe as possible with the tools and measures already in place. Should further direction be necessary, OTs can organize equipment supply, implement exercise programs, discuss the risks of various daily activities and suggest home modifications.
Here are some examples of how a prior injury may put people at risk for a fall and the steps OTs can take to improve your condition and reduce the risk of further pain
- Pain medication can make you dizzy, sleepy or nauseous. An OT may suggest that you sit down while doing activities such as getting dressed or that you use a tall stool instead of standing in the kitchen.
- Maintaining balance becomes more difficult if you break or fracture an arm. An OT may help you organize your kitchen so that you don’t have to reach high for dishes or food while your arm heals.
- Moving with crutches can be challenging when going up and down stairs. An OT can assess whether you are able to use the stairs safely while on crutches or can make recommendations for room utilization on the main floor until your ability to walk improves.
Here are more resources, tools and strategies to protect yourself and those you care about from a fall. Share these with your loved ones to better ensure health and safety for all.
- Fall Prevention guide (Vancouver Coastal Health) – http://www.vch.ca/public-health/health-topics-a-z/topics/fall-prevention
- Exercises to improve balance (Harvard Medical School) – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/balance-training-seems-to-prevent-falls-injuries-in-seniors-201310316825.
- Home safety suggestions (Government of British Columbia) – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/disease-and-injury-care-and-prevention/fall-prevention/what-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-fall/home-safety-checklist
- Fall Prevention Month (Finding Balance British Columbia) – http://www.fallpreventionmonth.ca/toolkit/resources/finding-balance-british-columbia-campaign-toolkit.
- The Safe Living Guide (Public Health Agency of Canada) – http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/publications/public/injury-blessure/safelive-securite/pdfs/safelive-securite-eng.pdf
- Home modification support (BC Housing) – https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-financial-aid-for-home-modifications/home-adaptations-for-independence
October 27th is World Occupational Therapy Day! OTs make a difference in the lives of many today, here in Canada and around the world.
From its beginnings in treating patients with tuberculosis in the late 1800s, occupational therapy has evolved to help people of all ages to get the most out of life. Occupational therapists today address neurological events and injuries, mental health problems, injuries due to accidents, childhood conditions, orthopedic conditions, alcohol and substance abuse as well as cumulative trauma injuries.
Occupational therapy is a regulated profession in Canada.
Find out more about World OT Day and the benefits of occupational therapy at http://www.wfot.org/AboutUs/WorldOTDay.aspx.