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Is your glass half full or half empty?

By Guild Trainer/Assessor Linden Pirrone

Many of us have been asked the question is our glass half full or is it half empty? Are we asked the question to determine our attitude towards life or are we being asked this question for dietary reasons? There is so much more to our glass being half full than we really think. Yes, having a glass half full rather than half empty is certainly the right attitude to creating a happy life but the question is, what is it exactly that we are filling our glasses with when it comes to both our physical and mental health?

Both physical and mental health are equally important to us, as pharmacy assistants and to our customers, but does our diet affect our mental health or does mental health affect our diet? It is a little bit like the chicken and the egg.

We know from research that there is solid evidence to indicate that a healthy diet leads to both a healthy body and a healthy mind, so let’s start by looking at the direct benefits of having a ‘healthy diet’.

As pharmacy assistants we see many customers complaining of being tired and lacking energy. It is not uncommon to find these customers looking confused and bewildered by the wall of vitamins and minerals available in pharmacies. There are certainly a lot of vitamins and minerals that we can recommend, however before we can start making any recommendation it is important to find out their thoughts on what might be causing their lack of energy.

At APP Conference 2019, guest speaker and Accredited Practising Dietitian, Fiona Justice, explained that a recent dietary survey indicated that 72% of people surveyed responded that they believe they eat well. She also revealed that 95% of these customers don’t actually eat to the Australian Dietary Guidelines (which is two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day).

One of my favourite discussions I have with my students is finding out how they ask their customers about their lack of energy. Many of my students ask “how is your diet?” This is a good question to open, but when I ask what the response is, I’ve found that most customers will say “it’s ok”. My students then agree that this question may need to be more specific.

Here are some good questions to ask when talking to customers about their diet and nutrition:

  • What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
  • How many times do you eat meat in one week?
  • Do you drink alcohol or sugary drinks? How many per day, week?
  • Do you smoke? How many per day, week?
  • Do you drink coffee? How many per day, week?
  • Do you eat takeaway food? How many times per week?
  • Do you like to snack during the day? What do you like to snack on?

With these questions hopefully we will be able identify some areas that can be improved and then perhaps recommend some additional support through the use of vitamins and minerals.

So now let’s look at our glass being half full on an emotional level. I am a big fan of Tedx Talks and a recent video presented by Leo Borman discussed the benefits of looking at our lives as a glass half full; a life full of happiness and hope.

We all strive to be happy. So how do we fill our glass with things that are going to make us happy? It’s pretty clear that we don’t learn or gain anything from cynicism or pessimism so leaving any negative thoughts or actions out of our glass is step number one. Easier said than done but life isn’t meant to be about problems, it’s about turning problems into solutions!

That’s not saying that we don’t face problems in our day to day lives. We all have problems and our own level of sadness. Many of us accept this as a part of life but it doesn’t need to take control of our lives. Everyone wants to be happy. Happiness is in fact a universal quest. So, what do we really know about happiness? It seems that our quest in life to achieve happiness is completely off track. There have been studies all around the world that link optimism to happiness. It seems that many of us have been focusing on the things that we can’t do or believe we shouldn’t do rather than the opportunities and beliefs that we can. Research indicates that 50% of optimism is genetic, 10% is circumstantial, and 40% is left to us in other words our mind set. Optimism is a combination of belief and behaviour so if we start to believe then we will start to behave as an optimistic, remembering that optimism is the key to happiness.

So, our number one priority is to be optimistic about ourselves and our abilities, but our optimism also needs to influence others and then you will notice that the cycle will go on and on. Promoting a team of optimism can spread like a virus. The ‘Optivirus’ can spread positive vibes around your pharmacy and rub off on staff and customers. There is a positive strength in everyone, so let’s focus on this positive strength and put it straight into a glass. An interesting idea that you may wish to implement in your pharmacy is to introduce the ‘glass of optimism.’ Have a glass in your staff room and ask your staff to recognise something positive about one another no matter how big or small and write it down on a piece of paper and place it your ‘Optiglass’.

You may be pleasantly surprised just how fast your glass you fill and how the power of optimism will rub off on everyone.

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