Why Contextual Factors Improve Workplace Performance and Design

Why Contextual Factors Improve Workplace Performance and Design

Contextual factors is a term rarely used in the workplace or with employee performance. It is one of three factors that categorizes performance elements for improving performance outcomes. Any feature of yourself that is not part of a health condition or health status is defined as the personal context that influences performance (WHO 2001). Our performance and design coaches facilitate improvements through the following contextual elements: Expectations of Culture, Personal Beliefs and Customs, Behavioral Standards, Demographics, Stage of Life and History, Relationship to Time, and The Non-Physical: Simulated, Real-time, and Near-time. Gender and education levels are demographics that overlap into personal beliefs and customs. Context at an organizational level includes millennial, generation X, baby boomer, retired or volunteer life stages. 'Supervisor' may be a cultural custom or expectation of rank in workplace cultures. At the population level beliefs may be as an immigrant...
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This Chemical In Your Body Increases Creativity

This Chemical In Your Body Increases Creativity

  Science supports the ability to further improve creativity throughout our life span. Harvard Business Review defied disciplined routines to encourage creativity as the core to doing things efficiently and effectively. Creativity will "deposit confidence in our cerebral bank accounts," according to Forbes. It's a myth a person doesn't have a creative ability. The body produces a chemical for the brain and nervous system to communicate. Serotonin regulates sleep, body temperature and libido. It also increases creativity. The production of serotonin increases when: exposed to bright light, engaged in frequent exercise, diet including chickpeas and wild seeds in place of meat proteins, and self-induced changes in mood. Questions to Ask: What resources are used to maintain efficient and effective performance in your work tasks? What is the primary way you would increase serotonin production? On a scale from 1 (least) to 10 (greatest) is being...
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What Is In Sight May Distract You

What Is In Sight May Distract You

Try this: stand up, feet together, then close your eyes. Attempt to stay that way as long as your able to tolerate it while taking note to the feelings your body feeds you. Sight uses one of ten body structures in our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). It maintains and coordinates body functions. Researchers identified how sight effects organs phases of rest and activity. Below is the results (Willbarger and Willbarger 2012). Structure  | Rest & Digest | Fight-Flight Iris (eye muscle)| Pupil constriction | Pupil dilation Heart  | Rate & force decrease | Rate & force increase Stomach  | Increase peristalsis | Reduce peristalsis Lung  | Bronchial muscle contracts | Bronchial muscle relax Small Intestine | Digestion increase | Motility reduce Large Intestine  | Secretion/motility increase | Motility reduce Liver  | Antagonistic to glycogen | Conversion of glycogen ...
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Six Ways to Be Brave With Siblings

Six Ways to Be Brave With Siblings

The sibling bond is instrumental to health. According to the Prevention Research Center: in childhood and adolescence, siblings spend considerable time together, and siblings' characteristics and sibling dynamics substantially influence developmental trajectories and outcomes. A friendly acquaintance is much more tolerable than a sibling acquaintance. There's no history of who made dad angry! So, how do you get to know your siblings? There may be an early relationship history with less contact once in college. I've been utterly appalled to witness the power of family maliciousness at times of trauma or illness. Standing over a loved one being aggressive or violent is poor support during hospitalization. Are you resentful of your sibling? A worthwhile mental health question is: am I holding a grudge? Make a list to confess the anger. I keep an ongoing list then cross off grudges when they are resolved. It's silly some of the memories that surface but imperative to critical healing. Forgive daily. Commit to minute by minute forgiveness. The Journal of Behavioral Medicine sites an emerging study on...
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Creating a Perfect Cup of Coffee

Creating a Perfect Cup of Coffee

It's the process that creates a perfect cup of coffee...the aroma, color, shape, sounds and the movement and the location of where the coffee beans are stored or the drive to the cafe. It's all sensory data that is registered in your brain. RadioLab airs how the brain interprets this by using the metaphor music.  The entire broadcast is worth the hour listen, but if your short on time skip forty-four minutes into RadioLabs play-by-play of creating a cup of coffee within the sensory interpretation. Coffee-lovers are stimulated when they hear the word coffee.  Nutritionally, its a completely different playing field. My focus here isn't on how coffee nourishes but to begin a conversation about the effect of creating a cup (or four) may be equally gratifying without drinking it.  Some may need to cut back on coffee or eliminate it for health reasons. There are ways to maintain what coffee provides without drinking it. If you're a coffee lover how do you splurge...
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Eat To Be a Vigorous, Energetic Person

Eat To Be a Vigorous, Energetic Person

Home management and meal preparation are two tasks that are becoming a lost art. Women and men are prioritizing their career, parenthood, social life, exercise - prescribed chaos a minimum of 4 times a week without time to cook. Being well requires adjusting to new social norms. How do you manage food resources with new social norms?  Children's understanding of meals have evolved.  Take for instance juicing as a meal substitute. Nourishment is evolving.  Nutritional plans prioritize body needs with time management. Fiber is a major missing contributor to each meal. Juicing that extracts the whole food loses the fiber necessary for healthy digestion. No fiber equals havoc on the liver and hormones. Try one of these four ideas to keep nourishment in check with performance: Co-cook through a favorite cookbook with one or more of your friends 1. schedule cooking dates, 2. then double up recipes to freeze, 3. we highly recommend journaling the experiences on the recipe page - to freeze the memory! Invest in...
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Snack and Packing Ideas To Reduce Meal Prep Time

Snack and Packing Ideas To Reduce Meal Prep Time

I used to either eat out or eat garbage - frozen lunches with high nitrate and sodium - but then I would see my colleague with an array of or colorful vegetables, fruits and lean protein. Some signs of disservice to myself that I had noticed after lunch was that I was extremely lethargic and craved salt. Two sure signs of dehydration. Being able to time manage and pack a decent lunch is becoming less and less common. People find themselves with malnutrition, high cholesterol, and all that comes with a poor diet.  However, just like any other occupation, occupational therapists view meal prep as part of instrumental activities of daily living. Throwing a frozen burrito or TV dinner in your lunch bag is not necessarily meal prep. It often is conveniently lazy. Is it archaic or generational-neglect to create a substantially nutritious lunch with produce from a home refrigerator? Perhaps, it's all about time. Time management skills may also be something to improve upon. It...
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Undo Cruel Food Obsession. Seize Life With These Five Tactics.

Undo Cruel Food Obsession. Seize Life With These Five Tactics.

The day began with a mess of disorganization. Our team was out of synch and it cost valuable time. Every hour that morning another issue arose. The climax was financial catastrophe! This stress lead the team to emotional behaviors which created a different kind of work. Internal body regulating and mind work. The challenge was to remain calm through it all. Being overwhelmed with stressful feelings causes confusion. Emotions are a vital part of us to sort through problem-solving.  Suffering rears emotions from childhood experiences then initiates personal boundaries - healthy or unhealthy. Our primal instinct is to act for safety in seeking feelings of comfort. Feelings are stimulated by our senses. Our behavior is the reaction. Often people express a reaction by being "full of" an overwhelming feeling. "I'm full of excitement!" or "I'm filled with sadness." Feelings fill bodies in the same way food fills the stomach. In 1863 Americans attested that soulful meant they were 'full of feeling'. A half decade later it meant...
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Food Can Be A Trigger

Food Can Be A Trigger

It is that season when there is always something baking in the oven or a tea kettle boiling for tea or cocoa. Family mealtimes are emphasized and social gatherings are regularly scheduled. The work offices are stocked up with cookies or treats in shining, foil wrappers. Holiday treats and celebrations bring a sense of community, nurture our bodies and feed our soul. But what about those who have difficulties or disordered eating habits? The increase in food can be a trigger or stir up anxieties. Recently, I found out a person very close to me was having such difficulties.  She reported always having such emotional pain followed by physical pain of overeating and then ultimately this effected her self-worth.  This was difficult to discuss and shows bravery on her part. Nonetheless, timing was difficult - all of this surfaced right before the holidays. It is important to me to be mindful of her situation.  I know we will only have a short time...
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Health Significance of the Fall Season

Health Significance of the Fall Season

The fall season begs for the sight of leaves changing color, cool air and sweaters. In warmer climates fall nods to seasonal produce, like pomegranates, brussels sprouts, and pumpkins.  Everywhere, school buses and shorter days hint to a summer gone. The health significance of the fall season lies in transitioning. Change may take form as a battle of self-control. Since transition is adjusting to change like paying heating bills, eating starchy foods, or rising earlier to miss heavy traffic it may bring feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness. Food may be your friend for transitioning to change. Since food is a daily relationship it may be a simple starting point to attend health significance of the fall season. Consider incorporating these three categories of food into your balanced diet.  ALERTING FOODS For those of you that may feel sluggish, energize with crunchy foods (Allen 2012). You know...those afternoons that are difficult to get through because mornings require new adjustments to changes like sunlight, temperature,...
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Boost Sleep

Boost Sleep

All this social media talk about sleep. Is it overrated? Sleep is an occupation that directly supports its counterpart occupations including work, self-care, participation, education, and interdependent relationships. The inability to sleep over an average of 7.5 hours every night directly creates a counterforce to focusing, problem-solving, and carrying-out actions in team-work, competitiveness, and productivity. Will-power weakens enabling absences and illness caused from poor hygiene and body care. The less or more sleep the steeper the hill to being productive or to be at your best performance (Hublin et al 2013). To get to a lifestyle of aging gracefully and maintaining daily performance ask these questions: Is proficient self-care present? Is stress being burrowed by unhealthy behaviors (over-eating, laziness, blaming others)? Is it difficult to fall asleep most nights? What patterns most often occur with lack of sleep? What routines remedy next day blahs from lack of sleep? Humans are...
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Connect the Dots to Relief

Connect the Dots to Relief

This past week, I attended a course that focuses on preventing and managing undesirable behaviors.  As part of the exercise it stated: Connect all dots using two lines: . . .   Fairly easy. It creates a line.  Next was connecting two rows of dots, for a total of six dots.  The instructions read: Connect using 4 lines: .             . .             . .             .   It created a square.  Not too challenging just yet.  The last challenge was to still only: Use four lines to connect 9 circles: .        .        .  .        .        .  .        .        .  I am a very literal person so I assumed the idea was to have every dot connecting to every other dot.  Therefore it made this equation impossible. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. Over thinking.  Sometimes we complicate things to the...
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Our Gut Brain

Our Gut Brain

Who said we feed more than one brain? The butterflies, the stomach and head aches, inflammation, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, allergies, and many other common illnesses. Our head brain is similar to a car battery. It powers the body. Our gut brain is similar to a car transmission. It turns everything entering the body into energy. Here's how this breaks down. Our gut houses a system called the enteric nervous system. It communicates to our head brain feelings that exceed hunger. Our head brain directly communicates to our gut brain the conversion of sensations to feelings. This information exchange regulates hormone secretion. Stress strains our mood-regulating hormone, serotonin, by a whooping 95%! Organs suffer from that much serotonin. Stress is as common as life choices. It's not bad. The culprit is how or if we are preparing for stress then managing it when it happens. Stress management is taking action by voting for a healthy mind, body, and work environment. Initial exploration to these actions begin with asking these...
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Everyday Functioning For Kids and Adults With Sensory Concerns

Everyday Functioning For Kids and Adults With Sensory Concerns

Life is constantly changing around us.  Things like the temperature, lighting, and noises are always being processed.  Although a lot of this happens on an autonomic level, for persons with sensory processing concerns, standing still can be overwhelming and effect everyday function. Occupational therapist Catherine Armani-Munn, MS OTR/L explores the challenges of everyday functioning for kids and adults with sensory concerns. Bethany: What year & where did you graduate? Catherine: I graduated from Keuka College in a 5 yr masters program.  My undergrad was in Occupational Science and in 2010 I graduated with my masters in Occupational Therapy. I also got a minor in ASL (American Sign Language) in college which has helped me a lot in the field, especially working with the autism population. Bethany: What is  your background and what areas do you specialize in? Catherine: I have worked for several different school districts specializing with children with autism. I have also worked in preschools for the deaf and hard of hearing where I communicated...
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