Forming good habits can make a huge difference to our health, but sometimes it’s easier said than done!
“The compliance of medications has a more direct effect on patient health outcomes than the specific treatment itself” 1
It can be challenging to keep motivated every day to make the right choices to improve your health. Taking a long-term focus on our health shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying life, and doing what we love. So small, achievable habits can be a great way to help us achieve better health outcomes, giving us the confidence to get on with it.
When diagnosed with a health issue your health care professional may provide you with a treatment to mitigate or resolve the issue. However, some conditions are chronic which will require the continuation of treatment to managing the condition. It is common for people to follow through with the treatment prescribed by a healthcare professional for a short period of time and then to stop. Treatments can be inconvenient or difficult to implement into one’s lifestyle. Understanding the consequences of not sticking to your treatment in the long term reveals the potential costs this may have to your quality of life in the future.
It has been found that poor medication adherence was associated with a higher occurrence of hospitalisation in hypertension (+32%) and in diabetes (+32%). It also increased the chances of disease complications. 2
Ways to form good habits around medication adherence
It is normal and reasonable to encounter difficulties trying to stick to your treatment plan. An effective plan can make the difference, and your medications won’t take up too much of your time.
Starting small and one step at a time. Professor BJ Fogg of Stanford University and an expert in habit formation suggests that when building a habit, you need to start small and with one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself and set a simple achievable goal to work towards. Setting the goal of creating multiple habits at once risks the chance of failure, which can be understandably discouraging for anyone. Building on success however is a rewarding process that can lead to life changing results.
Good habits plan – the three R’s
Understanding how habits form and work can help you form better habits to make positive changes in your life. To help with the creation of your habits we recommend the plan of The Three R’s from the book ‘The Power of Habit’. The 3 R’s of habit formation are – Reminder, Routine, Reward. This is known as the habit loop.
Reminder relates to the trigger that causes the behaviour. It is the cue for your brain to initiate a behaviour, something that predicts the reward or what you would get out of doing the action. This could be money, or in the case of medicines adherence better health and the ability to get out and make the most of each day without worry.
Relying solely on memory, willpower or motivation is often not enough, so it can help to use existing habits like a morning tea, or dinner time as an effective reminder.
Routine is the action itself. You must repeat this behaviour many times until it becomes automatic. This may take multiple times to become habit and will vary from person to person. So, ensuring this action is made as easy as possible, if a particular action requires more physical or mental effort than you are willing to expend, then you won’t do it.
The reward of course is the driver for the habit. There can be multiple rewards for a habit, so it is important to find the one that motivates you the most. You can also celebrate milestones and small victories. The reminder/cue is about noticing the reward, the routine is about obtaining the habit, and the result of the reward will improve the quality of our lives.
How ZOOM Pharmacy can help transform your daily good habits with medicines
Medicine sachet packs have been designed to make it as easy as possible to take your medicines correctly. Our biodegradable, eco-friendly sachets sort all your medicines into easy to take doses.
Each little sachet is clearly labelled with your name, the medicines inside – and the date, day of the week, and time of the day to take it. So, you always know you are taking the right pills, at the right time, each day.
Find out more at Monthly Medicines Service
- Medication adherence: WHO cares? Brown MT, Bussell JK. Mayo Clin Proc. 2011;86(4):304-314.
- The impact of medication adherence on health outcomes for chronic metabolic diseases: a retrospective cohort study. E Han et al. Res Social Adm Pharm Nov-Dec 2014;10(6):e87-e98.