We are Bryanna Lazich, Sheldon McDonald and Rachel McCaffrey, three international students from all across Canada, nearing completion of Level 1 of the MSc Occupational Therapy pre-reg program. We decided to stay on in Scotland, remaining in halls on campus during the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown. In these uncertain and wavering times, we have attempted to challenge ourselves in creative ways, as a means of keeping occupied and coping with the restrictions, whilst far from home and our loved ones.
Occupational therapy researcher Hammell (2020), recently highlighted the disruption and restrictions COVID-19 has imposed on everyday living. Changes to our previous freedoms include: opportunities to travel, how we access education, and being amongst our QMU community and own communities back home. These are constraints we can particularly relate to right now.
The importance of occupation and our awareness of how it can; help us to take care of ourselves, manage stressful situations, stay connected, enjoy ourselves, offer us routine and develop new skills, led us similarly to consider what we could still do (Hammell 2020). This sparked our weekly paint nights every Saturday, where we gather our supplies including brushes, paint, and a glass of wine!
To get us started with this new occupation, we have found it useful to access step by step tutorials online that teach us how to paint. Each week we challenged ourselves with a more detailed painting to attempt, with the hopes of going freestyle in the coming weeks. You can see our progress in the picture above.
Painting as an occupation has, surprisingly, given us a sense of satisfaction. We have seen improvements from start to finish of each individual piece of work we have produced across the weeks. It has not only been a fun way to connect with friends and family via social media, but has also allowed us to connect with each other and enhance our wellbeing. The painting selected for paint night 4 also allowed us to connect with familiar scenes from home, with inspiration taken from a Canadian landscape.
Pöllänen (2013) an occupational therapist interested the value of craft, believes that making artwork, is a process that involves both learning and our emotions. This process has similarly helped us to have an outlet for enjoyment, become more calm and relaxed, gain competence in painting, and cope with the temporary loss of being away from home and our family.
Another area of surprise has been the occupation of cooking together. All three of us share a love of food and have made some delicious meals for each other. Since we have been trying to limit going to the grocery store, we have shared ingredients and created what we can with what we have. Congruent with the findings from a study by Absolom and Roberts (2011), we also identified with the benefits of our shared preparation and eating of meals including: maintaining a sense of routine, providing an environment for communication and discussion, expanding the variety of the meals we have been preparing and further developing our friendships with one another. Having the opportunity to cook and share our “speciality dishes” with each other has definitely been a highlight during this time of isolation.
Some other things we have still been able to do, to maintain our well-being, include regular walks outside and a variety of sports and activities. We often play frisbee, spike ball (highly recommend), badminton, and number of card and dice games.
Although these times have been trying for all of us in different ways, we have found the means to engage and participate in a variety of occupations, to remain active and well, which we hope you can enjoy too!
ABSOLOM, S., ROBERTS, A., 2011. Connecting with others: the meaning of social eating as an everyday occupation for young people. Journal of Occupational Science. Vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 339-346
HAMMELL, K.W. 2020. Engagement in living: Critical perspectives on occupation, rights, and wellbeing. Ottawa, ON: CAOT Publications ACE.
PÖLLÄNEN, S., 2013. The meaning of craft: craft makers’ descriptions of craft as an occupation. Scandinavian journal of occupational therapy [online]. August, vol. 20, pp. 217-227 [viewed 18 May 2020]. Available from: tandfonline.com