July 27, 2012

Old Habits Under Stress

Thank God we have researchers. If we didn't, we wouldn't know that old habits, under stress, tend to come back when we are trying so hard to change them. This morning's news headlines (in the health section on CBC.ca) suggests just this http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/07/25/stress-behaviour.html .

I guess to the lay person, this might come as a surprise. However, as a behaviour change specialist, I find this one of the hardest (and most popular) barriers to overcome when working with my clients. In fact, one of my initial questions during our first meeting is now related to stress (not to mention all the times I suggest change should NOT occur until the stress is relieved). While it may be easier to make small lifestyle changes during a "normal" day, when all hell breaks lose at work or at home, or you are feeling less than vibrant...old habits will show up again...I promise.

So what is one to do if they are wanting to make change? The answer to this is why I chose to see clients over a period of time and why I suggest one year to attain health and weight loss goals. The secret lies in the assessment of the stressor and creating a plan of action to avoid sliding back into old behaviours when it happens again....'cause you know it will happen again....that's life.

From quitting smoking, eating healthy, to daily exercise, if you are stressed out the chances of you sticking to it are lower. The key is action planning and getting to know yourself (and what you can and cannot do) when you are under such stress. Once you kick the old stress reactions to the curb, you have truly made the change.

Ultimately, if you are suffering under chronic stress currently, just say NO to change and do what you must to take care of yourself now (sometimes this does involve a bag of chips, your favorite beverage, and a good movie).


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