Transforming our behaviours for sustainable change
To create lasting, sustainable change in our health, we need to transform our behaviors. This is one of the core themes of the Habits of Health: We need to address our underlying programming and how we make choices in order to replace Habits of Disease with habits that move us farther down the path to optimal wellbeing.
To change a behavior, we have to look at where that behavior starts and understand the structure of the habit we are trying to reprogram. In Stop. Challenge. Choose. (still free to download!), we broke automatic behaviors down into habit loops so that you could see what stimulus triggered the emotional reaction (or a desire for a certain type of reward) that ultimately leads to your healthy or unhealthy choice.
For example, your boss yells at you at work, so you desire a way to relieve that anxiety, which makes you reach for a candy bar.
The Stop. Challenge. Choose. method helps you to recognize your habit loops so that you can pause an automatic behavior—something you do unconsciously—giving you the opportunity to make the choice that best aligns with your goals. This approach captures the power of mindfulness, helping you to pay more attention to the habits that power your day to day life.
When you become aware of the choices you are making, you are one step closer to making the healthier choice.
We have talked a great deal about mindfulness in the past, but here are some quick tips to help you refresh your own mindfulness practices:
- Keep a journal – Reflect on your day and write down where you might have been able to make a healthier choice.
- Plan ahead – If you know a certain situation is a challenge for you, plan your response ahead of time so that you are more prepared for the moment when it comes.
- Meditate – If you take a few minutes to pause and focus on your breathing, both as a regular part of your daily routine and in times of stress, you can pull yourself out of an automatic loop and think more clearly.
- Talk to your coach – Your health coach will give you support and strategies to help you on your journey. Don’t feel frustrated! Reach out to ask for advice instead.
- Change your environment – Sometimes the best solution to a challenge is to remove it completely, which is why we recommend removing unhealthy foods from your home and from your desk at work.
Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice. If you stumble, that’s okay! Work at your habits each day. That consistency, even if your steps are very small, is a big opportunity to transform your health.