Changing health-related behaviors is a difficult challenge. Incorporate the
tools below into your Wellness initiatives to assist members in successfully
changing health behaviors.
Tool #1: Establish effective goals
- Focus on areas that can impact the overall goal.
- By way of example, if the overall goal is to lose weight, the most productive
areas to focus on are the activity and dietary changes that will lead to long-term
- By way of example, stress management and improving self-esteem may also
impact weight loss; however, improving relationships, while a worthy topic,
will not necessarily impact weight loss.
- Make the goals specific, attainable, and forgiving. By way of example:
- “Exercise more” is too general.
- “Walk five miles everyday” is specific, but may not be attainable.
- “Walk 30 minutes everyday” is specific and more attainable,
but is not very flexible.
- “Walk 30 minutes, five days a week” is specific, attainable,
- Use a series of short-term goals to achieve the ultimate goal.
- Short-term goals break big challenges into more easily attained pieces.
- Smaller steps also provide Employee Wellness Plan members with encouragement
and success. These small successes are essential for maintaining motivation
towards a long-term goal.
Tool #2: Increase self-awareness
Self-monitoring is useful for tracking behavioral and environmental cues that
trigger a particular behavior.
Keeping track of behavior status is also useful for times when progress towards
a goal is difficult to measure, or when an individual is in a maintenance stage.
Tool #3: Offer rewards and motivation
- Encourage members to reward themselves for achieving small successes on
the way to their ultimate goal.
- Remember that rewards don’t always have to be “things.”
Words of encouragement and praise can provide powerful motivation when spoken
by a teacher, instructor, parent, friend, etc.
Tool #4: Respond effectively to set-backs
- behavior change is conceptually a continuum. However, movement along that
continuum is not just in one direction. People can move backwards or forwards
or sometimes just stay put. Communicate to members that set-backs, lapses
and even staying the same (i.e., maintenance) are common for individuals trying
to change behavior.
- Stress is often a factor in lapses and relapses. Offer a variety of stress
management resources to help members better handle the stress which could
trigger a set-back.
- Brain storm to create a list of potential (and probable) obstacles to participant
behavior change. Then formulate strategies to meet each of those challenges.
- Enhanced time management and decision-making skills can be effective ways
to overcome behavior change relapses.
- Offer members with information regarding the behavior change process so
that they will be better prepared for the challenges they will face. A brief
overview of the Stages of Change may be helpful.