OT Month

An athlete without a game, a musician without an orchestra, a socialite without a party, a dog without a bone... all dressed up (warmed up, tuned up, geared up) and no place to go! How do we align our usual passions when current circumstances limit opportunities to engage or "do"?

April is Occupational Therapy month! Concordia University Ann Arbor’s Occupational Therapy Program Director Juliane Chreston invited students, faculty, staff, and alumni to tune into a 20-minute workshop titled “Take 20: A Dog Without A Bone… Managing Occupational Deprivation.”

CUAA’s Career Engagement and Industry Relations department regularly hosts Take 20’s, a 20-minute boot camp session facilitated by faculty, staff and industry professionals to introduce topics designed to engage in career and vocational development.

This is the first Occupational Therapy month celebration since CUAA announced it’s newest professional degree programs, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Occupational therapy empowers people to participate in meaningful roles and routines regardless of their circumstances.

As Concordia students continue to adjust to online education, here are some tips for success from CUAA’s occupational therapy Program Director, Dr. Juliane Chreston.

Why is this important?
  • Your role as a student was previously structured by the campus schedule and experience.
  • At home you don’t have the same environmental cues and supports for learning.
  • Transitions take time and energy for adjustment.
  • Having a plan and attention to how you transition will help you adjust quicker and support success in your classes. It allows you to be RESILIENT!

Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” (“Resilience,” 2020) and is an anticipated theme of the new CUAA OT program.

Be a resilient communicator:
  • Remember that you are still a student. Set your mindset now to ensure that you are not viewing this as an extended spring break.
  • Family and friends may see you at home and underestimate your demands as a continuing student. You may need to be protective of your time and energy, and communicate this effectively.
  • Are family expecting you to pick up extra household responsibilities because you are home? It may help to map out a schedule of study and share it with them (then be sure they see you following through). You may need to negotiate to find the right balance.
  • Are friends wanting you to socialize differently because you are back in town? You may need to negotiate how often and when this is happening so you can still meet your school responsibilities.
Be a resilient student:
  • Re-evaluate the study space you’ve been using to be sure it is supporting your success. Choose a space away from distractions and where your materials will not be disturbed.  Younger siblings at home?  You might need to think about how their activities impact you.  Even a pet regularly needing to go outside can be a distraction!
  • Have textbooks, computer, notebooks, highlighters, post-it notes, etc. organized and ready so you don’t have to spend time searching. Place them all in a portable tote if your study space needs to move to various locations.
  • How is computer and internet access going? Do you need to negotiate with family to share access to data plans?
  • Ensure that you understand how your instructor is conducting class, and plan your schedule accordingly.
  • Maintain a consistent class/study routine. Even if your instructor is doing asynchronous instruction, consider devoting the same time of day/week that you would normally be in class for that subject.
  • Even if you’ve used a planner before, additional planning and mapping out of study time and assignments may be needed now. Utilize calendars and timers on your computer, dry erase boards, or whatever works best for you.
  • Don’t go it alone—keep in touch with at least one classmate and share tips and study materials (within acceptable guidelines from instructors) to help keep each other motivated and on track.
  • Put your phone in another room and avoid checking social networking sites, email, and entertainment websites during designated study time.
  • If you find yourself struggling with organizing your class/study time, seek support now.
Be resilient in your self-care:
  • Maintain a consistent wake up and bedtime schedule.
  • Follow your usual hygiene routines—resist the temptation to stay in your pajamas all day just because you don’t have to leave for class.
  • Your body is used to walking to class. Get up regularly from your computer and go for a short run, shoot a few hoops, or walk the dog around the block.
  • Especially if you are anxious, avoid watching the news or looking up the latest COVID-19 statistics. Remind yourself that there are things you can do to limit your exposure.  You may need to negotiate with family if they tend to keep the news stations running continuously.
  • Utilize a mindfulness app to help ease anxiety, and/or seek help if anxiety is interfering with your daily life.

References: Resilience. (2020.). In Oxford Dictionary.  Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/resilience

Julie ChrestonJuliane Chreston, OTD, OTRL, joined Concordia’s faculty in January 2020 as program director of occupational therapy. Bringing with her 25 years of experience in occupational therapy, Chreston will lead the state of Michigan’s first Christian-based occupational therapy program when launched in fall 2022, pending successful candidacy status by Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.