Starting the Journey to Health Behavior Change Amy Walters, PhD Licensed Psychologist Director of Behavioral Health Services for SLHDC
Questions about behavior change • What feelings do you have about making a health behavior change? • What are your thoughts? • What have your past experiences been?
Stages of Change The five stages of change • precontemplation (not intending to change) • contemplation (considering a change) • preparation (actively planning change) • action (actively engaging in a new behavior) • maintenance (taking steps to sustain change and resist temptation to relapse)
Pattern of Health Behavior Change • Cycle through stages multiple times at multiple levels
Making and Sustaining Change • Goals , commitment, readiness for change • Motivation • Behavioral Strategies • Understanding triggers
Goal Setting • Start small – one behavior at a time • Be realistic –small, achievable steps • Quantifiable definition • Reward yourself for small successes • Find a buddy • Forgive yourself for mistakes
Readiness for Change • How important is health behavior change to you? • How confident are you in your ability to change your behavior? • How committed are you to changing your behavior? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Motivation • Internal • Come from within (ex: feelings of pride, achievement, conviction, desire for better health) • External • Come from outside of you (ex: money, reward, attention, privileges) • Individualize – everyone is different • Importance of novelty and change • Okay to start with external and move to internal
Basic Rules of Behavior • Behavior is habitual – past is the best predictor of the future • Behavior is learned • Associative learning and conditioned responses • Reinforcement and punishment • Modeling • Behavior is goal directed–what need does it serve?
Create a supportive environment • Family/Friends • Time • Resources • Triggers
Triggers • Learn your triggers: • Environmental • Behavioral • Emotional • Cognitive • Avoid triggers or find healthy alternatives
Strategies for Making Change • Lifestyle and behavior take years to develop and also take time to change • Make a plan with realistic goals • Take small steps • Choose one area of focus • Prepare for and avoid your triggers • Acknowledge and reward your successes • Be patient and stick with it
Don’t Obsess Over Mistakes • Forgive yourself • Setbacks are part of change • Past mistakes don’t negate future successes • Let it go and move on
Take home points • Change is a process • Most people are in contemplation • Health behavior change is not linear • Many factors impact behavior change, including motivation, commitment, habits and environment • Start small and reward success • Small changes can have big effects