Behaviour plays a key role in overall well-being of individuals. Especially as adults, it is so important to choose behaviours wisely. For example, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise; are some of the unhelpful behaviours that many people practice. Altering behaviours isn’t exactly an easy process. The most interesting fact is that many people are aware that eating a good diet and physical activity is good for them, yet they struggle to adapt such habits. Therefore, education alone may not be enough for some, to change their behaviours.
Following are some of the behaviours change tips that can assist individuals to gradually alter their behaviours:
- One habit/behaviour at a time – This tip is quite crucial. Bringing a change in behaviour is difficult, even if it’s just one habit. If you take up a few things to change together, that can rapidly end up in failure. Which is why it is important to take baby steps when wanting to change a behaviour.
Keeping track of one simple behaviour, monitoring its alterations, and introducing an alternative behaviour/habit to replace it – can be significantly easier comparatively.
One of the reasons why often people’s New Year’s Resolutions fail is because they try to take up many things at a time to change. This can be practically impossible to achieve at times. The moment the realisation of struggle involved becomes real, people end up abandoning the whole change plan altogether.
Therefore, the smaller the target, the more focused you can be towards that one behaviour change. Once that is achieved, it will allow you confidence to move onto another behaviour.
- Identifications of triggers – A lot of the times, even with the best intentions at heart to change behaviours, we often fail. The reason for that is that we can often fail to identify the triggers or stimulus around us that might be encouraging that behaviour or making it difficult to let go. Therefore, depending upon which behaviour we wish to change, it is important to identify any personal, social, external, etc. triggers that might be hindering the change.
For example, you might want to quit alcohol, but every time you are meeting your friends, everyone gets a drink, and you are compelled to get one as well. In such a situation, you can always investigate changing venues such as meeting outdoors for walks, or for coffee instead.
Once triggers are identified, they can then be successfully eliminated to allow behaviour change.
- Rewards – This might sound as if it’s bribing yourself, however that is not the case. The reason for changing a behaviour is not to punish ourselves, but to increase our well-being. Therefore, at times working on a behaviour can feel like a punishment, since we can feel ourselves going outside our comfort zones trying to achieve that. Therefore, frequent small rewards can be a reminder of why you are altering the behaviour in the first place. It can also make you aware that changing a behaviour does not necessarily mean missing out on something, it means you can allow yourself to introduce alternative healthy behaviours instead and thus rewards can serve as a reminder for this.
As much as behaviour change can seem daunting, especially as adults, because many behaviours become permanent by that stage – altering them and re-introducing new ones can have useful effects in the long run.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Mahnoor Nadeem is a student of Masters in Clinical and Health Psychology in Lithuania and a Trainee Psychologist at Willingness. She enjoys working with children and adolescents and exploring topics such as health psychology, family therapy and sexual health.
Schwantes, M. (2021). 5 Effective Ways to Change Your Behaviour and Improve Your Life. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/change-is-hard-here-are-5-things-to-make-your-transition-a-lot-easier.html
Babuta, L. (2021). The Habit Change Cheatsheet: 29 Ways to Successfully Ingrain a Behaviour – zen habits. Retrieved from: https://zenhabits.net/the-habit-change-cheatsheet-29-ways-to-successfully-ingrain-a-behavior/