Occupation: a General Understanding

Occupation: a General Understanding

OCCUPATION: A GENERAL UNDERSTANDING Definitions: Occupations as continuous activities having a purpose (Dewey, 1916). Occupations have also been defined as the ordinary and familiar things that people do every day (Christiansen, Clark, Kielhofner, & Rogers,1995). Occupation as doing culturally meaningful work, play, or daily living tasks in the stream of time and in the contexts of ones physical and social world (Kielhofner ,1995) . Occupations as chunks of daily activity that can be named in the lexicon

of [the] culture (Clark et al., 1991). Domains of Occupation: Work Work has been defined traditionally as activity required for subsistence. Primeau (1995) provided a useful review of the domain of work, noting that definitions of this category of occupation vary from that of paid employment to that which is the opposite of rest or non-work. The term productivity has been proposed as a more useful alternative to the term work, recognizing that much productive activity is done outside of paid

employment (Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, 1995).The definition proposed for this category is, Those activities and tasks that are done to enable the person to provide support to the self, family and society through the production of goods and services. Leisure and Play The characteristics of choice, expression, and development are often attributed to activities described as leisure. As a primary occupation of children, play is also a leisure category; however, the

term is also used interchangeably with leisure to describe the non-work activities of adults. Personal Care Those activities that are necessary for maintenance of the self within the environment constitute the category of personal care. Often included in this category are activities related to basic self-care, such as eating, grooming, and hygiene. Other terms found in the literature for this broad category include self-maintenance (Reed, 1984) and activities of daily living (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 1994).

Sleep Sleep is a specific personal-care occupation that is necessary for health (Kryger et al., 1995). Because humans spend approximately one-third of their lives in sleep, it is an important time use category. ORGANIZING OCCUPATION Categorization of occupations (for example, into areas of activities of daily living, work, and leisure) is often problematic. Attempts to define work and leisure demonstrate that distinctions between the two are

not always clear (Csikszentmihalyi & LeFevre, 1989; Primeau, 1996). Work may be defined as something people have to do, an unpleasant necessity of life, but many people enjoy their work and describe it as fun. Indeed, Hochschild (1997) discovered that employees in the work setting she studied often preferred the homelike qualities of work to being in their actual homes and consequently spent more time at work than was necessary. The concept of leisure is problematic as well. Leisure might involve activities that are experienced as hard work, such as helping a friend to build a deck on a weekend.

The Where of Occupations Occupations happen in places, and these places are often specific to the activity being pursued. In the built environment, rooms are designed around activities. Thus, self-care and sleep take place in bathrooms and bedrooms, cooking takes place in kitchens, and recreation takes place in gymnasiums and parks. The geographic location of activities has significant implications for individual mobility, public transportation, opportunities for participation and experience, and the development of social relationships.

General Patterns of Time Use Time use studies indicate that for adults in the United States, on average, approximately 30% of a typical 24-hour day is spent sleeping; 10% is allocated to personal care activities (including eating); and another 10% is allocated to household work, such as cooking, laundry, and cleaning. For those who are employed, approximately 25% of ones daily time is spent on actual paid work (excluding breaks). Thus, nearly 60% of the waking day is devoted to obligatory or required activities, including employment, for a typically employed adult. This proportion of obligatory activity has also been found for adolescents.

Self-care (10-15%) Leisure (25-30%) Work (30%)

Rest/ Sleep (30%) DOMAINS OF OCCUPATION AND AN AVERAGE DISTRIBUTION OF TIME IN HEALTHY PERSON PATTERNS OF OCCUPATION Part of the predictability of living from day to day reflects the consistency of occupations. Obligatory occupations, such as self-care and sleep, are typically repeated as part of daily routines. Yet, some occupations, such as watching television or playing computer games, become so engaging they are pursued

obsessively, sometimes with negative health consequences. Other occupations seem to have a self-perpetuating quality, which encourages the individual to continue pursuing them. A preliminary study involving university students suggested that one important element of this phenomenon, which Carlson (1995) terms occupational perseverance, is the individuals perceived progress toward meeting an important or valued goal. This tendency to continue pursuing an activity seems to be distinct from habits. Habits Some behaviors are repeated so often that they become habitual,

performed on an automatic, preconscious level. In the extreme, recurring behavior may meet a strong physiological and psychological need, which is described as an addiction. Habits influence behavior in a semiautomatic way without need for conscious, deliberate action. Routines Routines are occupations with established sequences, such as the morning ritual surrounding showering and dressing for the day. Routines provide an orderly structure for daily living as suggested in this description by Bond and Feathers (1988), who write that a routine has a stability about it that extends over time and pertains to a particular set of

activities within a defined situation. LIFESTYLES Habits, routines, and occupational preferences help define lifestyles. Lifestyles can be defined as a distinctive mode of living that are both observable and recognizable, and over which the individual has choice. Elliott (1993) notes that a routine or established way of dealing with personal needs and the demands of the environment, as well as an established and consistent pattern of involvement in a particular type of behavior, are also important characteristics of lifestyles. LIFE STORIES

Viewing the past, present, and future as part of an unfolding story is an important mechanism in the meaning of everyday occupation and is known as narrative. Narrative refers to the autobiographical stories through which lives are described and interpreted to the self and others. These stories provide a sense of unity and purpose. It is believed that our sense of self, or social identity, is very much influenced by our ongoing interpretation of events through our life stories (Christiansen, 1999; Gergen & Gergen, 1988). Because our life stories are constantly being written and revised to incorporate new experiences, narrative can also serve as a motivational influence. That is, as we develop our life stories, we are guided by many possible scripts depending on the opportunities and options available to us.

Development of Occupation Factors that influence development of Occupations: Societal investment in children's occupations Interpersonal influences on occupational engagement The dynamics of doing an occupation Occupation And Health And Well-being While no definitive description of well-being exists, it is generally

understood to be a person's subjective perception of his or her health. In Western societies, in which individualistic values prevail, well-being is commonly associated with concepts such as self-esteem, happiness, a sense of belonging, and personal growth and encompasses people's feelings about their physical, mental, and social health (Wilcock, 1998). Disease/Illness IMBALANCE BETWEEN ALL THE DOMAINS OF OCCUPATION

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