Today’s stop on the family wellness challenge is the starting point in a journey to “well” being. This is something that I LOVE to talk about and something that comes naturally to occupational therapists. Join our wellness challenge that is a guide to family wellness, a path to mindfulness and regulation, and a means to integrate coping tools across the family unit and all that it is.
So, what does family wellness look like? How can families improve wellness as a whole? The family unit is a diverse thing, so when it comes to health and wellness, individual needs can be just as diverse. What works for one family may not work for another. What is a comprehensive strategy for one family will look totally different for another. The wellness challenge happening here on The OT Toolbox site is just that: A diverse toolkit designed to serve families of all sizes, backgrounds, and ethnicity.
“The contribution of a family toward a person’s well-being(Humphry, R., Gonzalez, S., Taylor, E., 1993)
is clearest at both ends of the life span. The natural dependency of childhood and the consequences of secondary aging among older persons result in caregiving
needs that arc frequently met by family members, At
times, the role of the family as nurturer and change agent
is so central that the family becomes the focus of intervention.”
Occupational Therapy and Wellness
OTs are experts in using a holistic approach to function, across the lifespan. In other words, Occupational therapists helps people in any skill or task that occupies their time. To help individuals build skills and achieve goals, OTs practice with a “whole body” approach. Helping people of all ages physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually is part of the job. Holistic approaches such as yoga, mindfulness, coaching, Reiki, massage, acupressure, guided imagery, meditation, reflexology, massage therapy, aromatherapy…The list could go on and on. These are all mind/body/spirit approaches that integrate the whole body into function.
The variety of holistic approaches serves well the family unit and it’s fabric and variety of interests, talents, and strengths.
Getting families involved in practice is essential and just one part of the process.
Occupational therapists involve the family and parents in child-centered goals and incorporate family well being and quality of life for the whole family. Family routines and daily activities impact the child as well as the whole family. Therapists can help with overall functioning through use of wellness and holistic strategies.
The tools used to promote wellness can be many things depending on each individual’s interests, needs, strengths, and weaknesses. We will get into each aspect of wellness throughout this challenge, as well as cover a resource of tools to add to your “wellness toolbox”. These strategies and tips can be used in therapy practice, in the classroom, or in the home.
Family Wellness Wheel
Wellness for families looks like wellness in a possibly more integrative position. Check out this post that describes what a wellness wheel is.
For families, there are many individuals that make up the family unit. Wellness depends on each member but also each family member together as a unit. A balanced lifestyle involves all of the members together.
Family wellness can be impacted by physical needs of a member of the family. Societal contributions, environmental impacts, income, backgrounds, and occupations of each member can contribute to family well being.
Within the family, each member will also have their own specific wellness integration that defines emotional, physical, mental, intellectual health and wellness.
In our wellness challenge, we are covering many areas that integrate together:
- emotional management
- attitude and mindset
- beliefs and values
- health and fitness
- habits and healthy choices
- awareness of others
- social development
- learning and cognition
- goal setting
- executive functioning
- participation in daily tasks
- play, learning, and hobbies
There are many other aspects of family wellness that this challenge does not cover. Some considerations may include finances and environmental safety.
Family Wellness in Action
Occupational therapists are skilled at empowering families into a balanced state of wellness. The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Vision 2025 (2017) necessitates that OT professionals promote “health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living”.
Occupational therapy practitioners are important pieces to the wellness puzzle. Therapy professionals impact occupational justice, overall health, and well being of the individual as well as the family. Quality of life on an individual basis and as a family unit are based on integration of wellness wheel components. Occupational therapy practitioners are experts in thinking outside the box and addressing weaknesses or areas of need by using occupation and adaptation across all components (emotional, physical, mental, intellectual, etc.)
For the family, wellness looks like integration of individuals and family members with the awareness and acceptance of factors such as poverty, social and environmental concerns, occupational deprivation, and many other considerations.
Family wellness activities
By promoting a safe and enriching environment, families can support healthy development and better outcomes for children and the entire family unit. By allowing for opportunities for children and the family to engage in meaningful occupations, including play and learning, with occupational justice, families can thrive.
1. Make wellness FUN. This wellness bingo game is a great way to get the whole family involved in health and wellness activities.
2. Try a family exercise. A walk together in the evening is a nice way to wind down and reflect on the day.
3. Visit parks and playgrounds together. Explore nature, run, climb, throw a ball, take a hike. The physical activity options are limitless!
4. Cook together. Cooking offers an opportunity to try new foods and talk about healthy food options.
5. Commit to a screen-free day. As a family, working together on a goal like going screen-free for 24 hours means commitment and practice in goal-making. Take away the screens and see what you can fill that time with…puzzles, reading books, playing with sidewalk chalk, visiting neighbors…all ways to fill those emotional, mental, intellectual, and physical buckets!
A common theme in family wellness is grit, determination, perseverance, and occupational well being across all members. The options for family wellness activities are limitless and based on overall health and well being of the family…with a goal for better quality of life!
Occupational therapy practitioners should consider promotion and prevention models, such as public health and positive youth development, to moderate the effects of poverty through building resilience.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2017). Vision 2025. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71, 7103420010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2017.713002
Humphry, R., Gonzalez, S., Taylor, E. (1993). Family Involvement in Practice: Issues and Attitudes. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 587-593. vol 47, Number 7. link
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.