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The Power of a Sticker

If you have been following me for any length of time, you probably know that I have multiple health issues, many of which require various and sundry medications to control.

For the most part, I am pretty good at remembering to take my medications. I have a lot of systems in place to help me remember, but the one I have continued to struggle with is my maintenance inhaler for my asthma.

In the past, I have been on different inhalers to control my asthma. Some once or twice a day, usually with a different controller medicine to help me stay on top of my symptoms. But now, I have an inhaler that is one time, once a day. And I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to stay on schedule with it.

So, I did an experiment during the past month. I made a sticker chart.

Yep, you read that right.

Setting myself up for success

I went back to basics, created a calendar, and put a checkmark each day that I remembered to take my inhaler. In addition to the sticker chart, I made sure to keep a cup in the bathroom so that it would be easy to rinse my mouth out after using my inhaler. That way I couldn’t use the excuse, “I don’t want to get my hands wet” to rinse my mouth. Not only do I have the incentive to use my inhaler (putting a check mark on each day), but I also have the tools I need close by (a cup).

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Did my sticker chart help me remember my asthma medicine?

The results are in! Using a sticker chart dramatically increased my usage of my maintenance inhaler. And I mean DRAMATICALLY.

I went from using my maintenance inhaler 1-3 times a week to 6-7 times per week. It’s incredible to me how something so simple can make such a difference!

Now that the month is over, what is my reward for remembering to take my inhaler? Better asthma control, of course!

I would love some other incentive to get all my checkboxes, but I, like many others in my generation, am living paycheck to paycheck. Which is fine, I am not complaining. Honestly, the intrinsic reward of better asthma control is just as good a reward as anything else would be.

There were a few days that I still forgot to use my inhaler. Mostly in the mornings, I was rushing to make my pot of coffee after staying in bed too long. Interesting side note, there were some days that I didn’t take my inhaler first thing in the morning like usual and I remembered to go back and take it just because I wanted another check mark on my calendar. Oh, the power of a sticker.

Was the month perfect? No, but I made some amazing progress. I learned a bit more about my habits and routines, and I think I found something that will finally keep me on track. I’m excited to continue my experiment and hopefully see more improvement as time goes on. Baby steps are still progress.

Have you ever used a sticker chart to help you stay on track or remember something? Was it helpful? Let me know in the comments!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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