Behavior modification is concerned with a persons behavior and what that person does. Behavior can be classified into overt behavior and covert behavior. (Miltenberger, 2011) Overt behavior is what others can observe and learn while covert behavior refers to thoughts inferred from what a person says and tells us including emotions and the nervous system. There is a lot of complexity in human behavior and any attempt to comprehend this complexity is an appreciation of human behavior. Breaking down of ones behavior requires discipline and a change program. The aspect behaviors are not conceptualized as detailed responses being studied to specific stimuli but rather are classes of reactions considered to categories of situations. By targeting behaviors, behavior modification provides information on what to do in real situations. For instance, my persistent worries about my workmates whether or not they work when I am gone after my shift need an efficient change program. The obsessions have changed my sleeping patterns causing chronic headache and fatigue. Sometimes understanding the problem and seeing why people behave in a particular way may help one deal with the problem. Maybe the person has the required skills to deal with the problem once the problem has been understood and verified. Behavior modification provides specific ways of providing help to people on how to handle anxiety and eliminate fears. Therefore, a change program on how to get rid of my worries and go back to my regular sleeping habits with no headache and fatigue will involve understanding my behavior. It will also mean learning new skills and behavior, reducing undesired reactions and habits and becoming more motivated for the desired change. (Kazdin, 1978).
I have chosen to modify my unhealthy pre-bedtime habits that cause chronic headaches and fatigue. I worry a lot if my colleagues work when my day shift is over. My job is very demanding and not getting enough sleep can affect my output at the end of the day. Therefore sleep is an important part of life and more crucial when it comes to my work. When I get home from work, I get ongoing worries before I can go to bed. This behavior occurs each and every day and thinking can even endure for hours until midnight. This practice has become so intense to the extent that I can wake up in the middle of the night and start worrying if my workmates are still on duty or they are not working. The everyday frequency of the habit has caused me a headache that can cause more complicated health issues. Even starting my worries, I am always in the bathroom taking a shower to go to bed but even I am done, the worries start. Before, I can get sleep, it can take me hours to relax my mind and sleep peacefully. Modifying this habit will improve my health conditions as well as my work productivity. So much productive work can be done when one wakes up refreshed after a full night sleep.
I have observed my pre-bed time habits for two weeks to identify the pattern that started on Sunday evening and continued until Saturday night. The patterns vary as most of the times; I get my thinking for more than an hour. At this particular time, I call my workmates pretending to be checking up on them. But I call to know if they are busy or not. If they do not pick up the phone, then I realize they are busy and working. Sometimes, I call and when the phone is picked up, only to hear my other colleagues laughing in the background, I get stressed up and stay many hours awake. I realized that on such days, I wake up late the following morning and do not do anything constructive at work. On other days, I got to bed at 10.30 and latest at 1.00 but my waking hours was still the same at 6.00 in the morning because I am to report for work at 7.30.I value my job so much and lateness has never been part of me. Sometimes I can stay awake for thirty minutes thinking about my colleagues but at times for hours. These patterns vary depending on how busy my day was. But at the end of the day, I still worry about my colleagues. Although I woke up the same time in the morning, I realized that I fell asleep during the day in the office most of the time. At the end of my assessment, I realized that if I took a nap during breaks, I felt refreshed and worked for effectively. It was very hard for me to take the nap as I felt I was lazy, but the truth is that I needed that nap to work well the rest of the day.
One of the major stimulus conditions is my personal worries about my workmates. The organization I worked with is still young and on the verge of rising to top levels. Therefore each and every department is divided into teams. Promotions or pay increases are graded according to how a team performs. As the company is still young, the management is very strict on performance and poor performance leads to direct termination of the contract. I love this job as I am still fresh from college and it is all I got. Therefore I worry much about my workmates because failure to perform can lead to the demotion of the whole team.
My other stimulus condition is my part-time classes assignments. I have taken up part-time classes to improve my job performance and increase chances of promotion. My schedule is very tight as I am working all day and the only time to attend classes is at night. I have therefore developed a tendency to do my assignment at night which keeps me awake for several hours before midnight. This has lead to changing my sleeping patterns causing headache and fatigue. At times I think of how hard I am working to survive yet my workmates can drag me to fail by not working hard enough. The thought of it stresses me and keeps me awake.
My goal is to have regular exercise every day after my part time classes. By exercising my body will become tired and the only thing I can think of is getting a peaceful rest. My goal is therefore to moderate my workouts at least three hours before bedtime. If you exercise vigorously, you get powerful sleep benefits. I also aim to be in bed every day by 11.00; this will give me enough time to rest and wake up feeling refreshed and active.
Remove/Encourage stimulus condition
For the first stimulus condition that was my workmates, all that I had to do is talk to them about it. I confronted my workmates and explained to them how I worried if they were working or not. It turned out that each team member was also concerned about the same thing. All that we had to do is perform our responsibilities as expected to avoid any unpleasant outcomes. When all of us agreed on that, felt as if all my problems were gone.
My other stimulus condition, part time classes assignment was much easier than I initially thought. I had a habit of doing my assignments the last few days to the expiry date. Therefore I developed a plan always to do my assignments weeks and days before the handing in date. As I did not work over the weekends, I ensured that I would get my homework done during the day, so as to get enough time to relax at night.
Punishers and Reinforcers
My Punisher that would work effectively for me was a failure to take coffee. I love coffee so much and each time I take it, I spend more than twenty minutes thinking about other things. Coffee is one of my modes of relaxation. If I did not make coffee then I would not think or worry about my workmates. Another Punisher would be doing yoga and concentrating for five minutes with my eyes closed without thinking of anything negative. My concentration power is indigent and five minutes of silence is punishment. For the reinforcers, they were intrinsic and I decided that doing this was for my sake and I was motivated. According to A. Robert Sherman (1973), one is likely to improve their behavior by rewards and minimize the behavior by punishment by my improvement was balanced by both.
Design a program
I developed a program where I scheduled particular days and times when I would take coffee. There would be no coffee at night before bed. The only time to have coffee was in the morning on Monday and Friday. A schedule for Yoga was available where I would sit in silence for five minutes every day at 10.00 before going to bed. I felt that this program was the best for me. Behaviors can be modified through a shaping process. (Jackson & Wallace, 1974)
I am so glad that after two weeks of myself improvement project, my headache and fatigue are reducing at a fast rate. My severe punishment of not taking coffee has significantly improved my sleeping pattern and I am in bed at 11.00. My yoga exercise has given me concentration that I never had initially. Working out is the best exercise I could ever ask for as my body metabolism has improved and I can sleep without waking up in the middle of the night.
As my headaches are officially gone, I am going to try working out any punishers. Since I am intrinsically motivated, I know that it will work out well. I am happy that I no longer fall asleep at work. Also my output as well as my team members have increased. It is great that I do not have to worry about my workmates.
Gardner, W. I. (1973). Behavior modification in mental retardation: The education and rehabilitation of the mentally retarded adolescent and adult. Chicago: Aldine Publ. Co.
Hamerlynck, L. A., Handy, L. C., & Mash, E. J. (1973). Behavior change: Methodology concepts and practice. Champaign: Research Press.
Kazdin, A E. (1989). Behavior modification in applied settings. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.
Miltenberger, R. G. (2011). Behavior modification: Principles and procedures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Sherman, A. Robert. (1973). Behavior modification: Theory and practice. Belmont: Wadsworth.
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