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The Therapeutic Value of Leisure Activities

Have you ever felt depleted from a long day or week? When this happens, you may have had plans you no longer feel up for, or you’re looking at your long to do list but there’s no gas in the tank to get any of these things done. From an occupational therapy perspective, leisure activities play a crucial role in promoting overall health and well-being, and can be used to reduce feelings of burnout. Occupational therapists recognize that engaging in meaningful leisure pursuits not only enhances a person’s quality of life, but also contributes significantly to physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.

Before we dive into the topic of leisure activities, let's briefly understand how occupational therapy plays into this. Occupational therapists take a holistic approach to supporting individuals to overcome challenges to performing everyday activities. This means that every aspect of a person’s life is important to their overall wellbeing. This includes socializing, hobbies, leisure and having fun.

Leisure activities encompass a wide range of interests and hobbies that individuals pursue in their free time. These activities are typically driven by personal passion, enjoyment and satisfaction. This could include art, sports, wood working, gardening, reading, dancing, cooking, music, socializing, and more. These activities may focus on physical or cognitive skills, but often have an emotional benefit as well. Leisure activities can be a great source of stress relief and emotional catharsis. Participating in enjoyable activities releases endorphins, which can help reduce anxiety and depression. Occupational therapists often incorporate leisure pursuits into therapy sessions to help clients feel better about their life and to cope with various challenges. Engaging in leisure activities can also give individuals a sense of purpose and accomplishment outside of their professional responsibilities.

So don’t be surprised if you’re OT asks, “What do you like to do for fun?” or suggests going for a bike ride, reading or practicing the guitar. Embracing leisure pursuits not only brings joy to our lives but also contributes to our overall health and wellness. So, let us make time for leisure, to explore new interests, and find joy in the activities that make us truly happy.

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