How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle?

How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle?

A key goal of health programs is to promote the long-term maintenance of positive change and to enable health professionals to help patients improve outcomes and maintain positive lifestyle changes. It is known that embarking on the path of healthy lifestyle changes is not easy, and perhaps even more difficult – to stick to it for a long time. The question of why it is so difficult to maintain remains open to psychology.

To answer it, our group looked at theories that explain how people change and then continue to support positive changes: quitting smoking, becoming more active, and others. We have identified 100 theories. They can be summarized in five key areas – and this is good news for health professionals because it is possible to apply these theories in practice.

Staying Motivated 

This is important when starting a new lifestyle, such as hitting the gym, running for the first time, eating right or cutting out fast food, or drinking too much. Not surprisingly, motivation is critical to establishing long-term lifestyle change. Motivation changes over time, and to maintain a new lifestyle, you need to know how even when motivation decreases. This can be done if you plan what you will do when difficulties arise. For example, in case of heavy rain, I will work out at home instead of jogging or going to the gym.

Self-Regulation 

Involves looking after what you are doing. Tracking your lifestyle is important to determine the need for change, and therefore be able to actively change if needed. For example, to see if something needs to be done about your physical activity level, you should track your daily activity level. To do this, you can use gadgets with the function of counting steps. The World Health Organization guidelines indicate that you need at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, and if you find that you are far from this level, it becomes possible to plan for changes, and stay active regularly by clarifying when, where, and how.

Resources

These are essential for a lifestyle change and include a physical and psychological component. For example, it’s hard to stay healthy (exercise, eat right) when you’re stressed, feeling down, or haven’t had a good night’s sleep. To maintain healthy behaviour patterns, you need a lot of resources, that is, you need to feel full of energy, rested, and not stressed. The physical resource is also important: you need to build an environment that will help health. For example, we cannot eat normally if there is no access to healthy food, and we cannot take medicine if it is simply not available.

Habits 

Everyone talks about habits, and usually, people don’t understand them quite the way psychologists do. For a medical psychologist, habits are formed when, in response to a trigger situation, a person gets the desired result. Bad habits, such as smoking or eating late in the evening, are difficult to change because they become natural and organic and a person does not think about them. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to break bad habits and form good ones. Psychology gives many recipes for this. New good habits usually take time to form, as do old ones. A popular way to develop a habit is to always respond appropriately to selected events and experiences.

  1. Finally, the environment, place, and people around us should support us in healthy behaviour. Often, when you change your lifestyle, you also need to change the surrounding reality. The people around us are an important part of this reality. Family, friends, and the people we spend time with also influence how healthy our lifestyle is. They can help us simply by being supportive or role models, but they can also be a bad influence, such by offering to smoke or drink. This should not be understood as a ban on spending time with friends who do not lead a healthy lifestyle. But you need to share your plan for improving your health and make a firm decision not to be pressured by others. For example, refusing the third piece of the pie.

How do inspire patients not only to start but also to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Practical recommendations

Staying Motivated 

This is easy to say but hard to do. Ask patients why they want to change their lifestyle and stick with it; successful cases from practice can be mentioned.

Monitor 

 Encourage patients to self-monitor how and what they do, such as how and when they sleep, move, eat, and take medicine.

Everyone Needs Resources 

Make sure patients have the mental and physical resources, including adequate sleep and access to quality nutrition.

Work on habits

Having healthy habits is the best predictor of long-term lifestyle changes. To develop these, the patient can create an if-then plan that connects the moments of the event with the required action for example: if I see sneakers next to the door, I’ll go for a walk.

The environment must be supportive

 The patient must be immersed in an environment that promotes healthy change and includes resources and people who promote change. It would be good to check how the patient’s place of residence and place of work contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and if not, how to improve it. The patient may also turn directly to family and friends for help with long-term lifestyle changes.

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