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Are you aware of your habits?

When the car is stopped at the lights you often put your fingers in your mouth.  Are you aware?

A habit is defined as:

Something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it. Cambridge dictionary

A ritual is defined as:

A set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony. Cambridge dictionary

Habits can become a problem. Like doing the same thing for everyone who asks for your help with the ‘same’ issue.There is no thinking in habitual behavior. There are many habits that are unhelpful.

A ritual on the other hand can be chosen and practiced so that they are a part of your repertoire when you are faced with a particular challenge- like hand washing before greeting a patient if you are a healthcare professional. A ritual is performed with mindfulness and awareness. A ritual is deliberate and ceremonial, usually done with reverence and respect. So much better than picking your nose!

  • List your habits, including the nail biting.
  • List the rituals that might make you better at your job.

Picture by Michael W May

What do you have for morning tea?

Where I live ‘morning tea’ refers to a mid morning drink usually accompanied by a snack of some sort. It is likely that we all stop for a cuppa mid morning. It’s part of a ritual at work. Then we might stop for a snack mid afternoon and then again just before bed. Do you? How many calories over and above your meals do you consume? Are you having problems shifting those extra kilos?

Here’s a tool that will help you decide if you have a problem and if that problem is the food or why you eat: Hunger app

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What did you think about on the way to work?

What did you think about as you made your way to work? Were you already at work in your head? Ruminating on the past? Worrying about the future? Did you grumble to yourself about the commute? The unreliable public transport? The traffic jam? The ‘idiot’ who cut you off at the junction? Did you read the ‘fake news’? Did you look at Instagram posts or catch up on Facebook? Were you one of those people yelling into your phone on the bus or tram?

Immediately following their regular commute to work, participants completed questionnaires regarding state driver stress and anger during that commute. Then, immediately following completion of that work day, they completed a state version of the Workplace Aggression Scale. As state driver stress increased, the frequency of both expressed hostility and obstructionism increased (independently) during that work day, but only among male employees. In contrast, overt aggression during that work day was greatest among males who were higher in physical aggressiveness as a general trait characteristic. The present study highlights the interactive nature of traffic and workplace environments, in that negative experiences in the traffic environment may spill over for some individuals to influence non driving events

Journal of Applied Social Psychology Dwight A. Hennessy

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Do you reflect?

Whether things go well or badly do you reflect on the experience? How? When? Why? What difference does it make? When was the last time someone said thank you? What was the context? What was your role in that exchange? How did that impact on your behavior in future exchanges?

If you’re interested in an easy way to improve your job performance and boost your career, it’s time to start a writing habit. A study from Harvard Business School tested whether taking 15 minutes at the end of a work day to reflect on that day’s work improved their performance and found the participants tasked with daily written reflection did 22.8 percent better on an assessment than the control group.

Hannah Hamilton

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What does your face say?

Are you aware what your facial muscles are doing when you are engaged in conversation? What about your neck and your shoulders? What do they leak about your mood? Your attitude? Your perspective? Is it possible they are sending entirely the wrong message?

Even though, there was no evidence found that displaying positive facial expression will increase the level of follower trust in their leader (both, affectively and cognitively) and their perceptions of leadership effectiveness, still the opposite was found to be true, which is a negative relationship between negative facial expressions and leadership effectiveness. This means, that the more the leader expresses negative facial cues such as lowered eyebrows and lip corners down, the less effective he or she is.

Pia Loeper, University of Twente

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Who taught you how to complain?

When during your training or your induction did anyone teach you how and when to express yourself when something did not meet with your expectations? Your parent might have said:

I know you’re angry darling but we don’t scratch and bite

How do your customers, clients, patients know how to complain? How did you learn to respond? Who models that behaviour for you? What is the approach to giving or receiving negative feedback where you work?

Picture by Paco Trinidad Photo

Will you be able to do this in ten years time?

As I trudged through the wards at 2am my body screamed its disapproval at being dragged out of bed in the small hours of the morning. That wasn’t for me. Is what you do today sustainable over the long haul? If not what are you doing about it? Your patients, clients or customers deserve the best. They need you to take responsibility for the decisions only you have the power to make. Either you are in or you have an exit strategy- but if you are in, then you have decided it is sustainable and you have made the call. No victim statement permissible.

Picture by Kevin Lawver

Are you sure they can help?

One of the key roles in healthcare is to refer people to other sources of help. The list of therapists, specialists and clinics is as long as any phone directory. However off loading someone elsewhere is hardly worthwhile if it’s a waste of time and money.

The goal should always be the initiation of a discussion about a patient’s needs and the beginning of a triaging process to address these, rather than problem identification being an end‐goal itself. Gemma Skaczkowski

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Did this person need those pills?

No matter what business you are in you might ask yourself if whatever you just sold to your customer is what they really needed. If you are a doctor that question cuts deeper- did you really identify  that person’s problem or did your prescription just get them out the door?

Inappropriate prescriptions are known to pose health risks for older adults, leading to unnecessary hospitalisations and undue cost. Budnitz et al

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What do they know about you?

Whenever someone new visits your shop, cafe or clinic for the first time they make a decision to give you a chance. It’s worth asking what persuaded them to do that. What’s their perspective on your business? Which of your previous patrons do they know? What do they expect? Can you deliver? They are telling you something merely by their presence on site.

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