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Leisure education and achieving wellness

Golden Gate Bridge...a national leisure resource
Golden Gate Bridge...a national leisure resource
Vicky Pitner

A recreation therapist provides persons with illness or disabilities services that improve health and wellness and restores or rehabilitates to improve functional and independent living skills.  Leisure counseling is one tool that is used to assist in helping an individual overcome barriers while developing a healthy leisure lifestyle.

Wellness is a holistic approach to good health by reaching the optimal level of functioning in all areas of your life. Through recreation, or "re-creation" of self, and leisure, "the attitude that one is totally free from compulsions" are two components to achieving wellness.

The four dimensions of wellness and their benefits includes:

  1. Physical: maintain independence, reduces premature death, and improve health

  2. Emotional: decrease depression, develop coping skills and stress reduction

  3. Intellectual: the use of the mind, curiosity and learning

  4. Social: the ability to get along with people and accept differences

Barriers to achieving wellness may include lack of motivation, unable to stop unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or overeating, procrastination, not handling stress and anxiety, inability to identify and overcome fears, and boredom.

Thus, ten steps to achieving wellness are identified:

  1. Clarify your values and attitudes by prioritizing those things that are important to you

  2. Develop a written plan with goals and objectives with dates for achievment

  3. Find activities that are fun and enjoyable

  4. Make a "to do" daily and include your goals.

  5. Don't "should" on yourself. I "should do this.." Have positive self talk and know your barriers.

  6. Become a time manager and get organized.

  7. Learn coping skills for dealing with stress

  8. Take action. Habits develop in 28 days.

  9. Establish a pattern of success and rewards, both intrinsic (internal) or extrinsic (material objects

  10. Take responsibility for your wellness. You are the only one that can do it

Leisure counseling is only one intervention a recreation therapist uses to address changes in leisure behavior. Leisure awareness, identifying leisure resources, developing activity and social interaction skills are also included in the Leisure Education Content Model.

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