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Building a Mindset for Healthy Habits

Sometimes the way we think about things plays tricks on us, making it even harder to achieve the things we want to. This article will help you to identify and overcome unhelpful thinking patterns.

Healthy habits are hard to nail at the best of times, and our own thoughts trick us into making it more complicated. The inner critic tells us we can’t do something, we fixate on the negatives, or unconsciously make excuses for ourselves. We come up with unhelpful theories about why we can’t stop smoking or drink less or move more or eat better. Fortunately, there are some hacks we can use to overcome unhelpful thinking and move forward.


Try choosing a more optimistic or helpful viewpoint. It’s easy to focus on the challenges, especially when healthy living feels like it’s about giving things up – ‘it’ll be too hard’; ‘I won’t get to go out drinking / eat my favourite snacks anymore’ – but what if we flipped our thoughts to what we’ll gain? Here are some examples to help you flip that switch:

  • “I’m doing something good for myself” rather than “I’m doing something tough”
  • “I’m building a balanced lifestyle” over “I’m trying to drink/eat less”
  • “I get to find a new hobby” rather than “I hate exercise”
  • “I’m eating healthier” over “I’ve given up my favourite foods”
  • “I’m saving money” over “I’m losing my cigarettes”

Rethink it

We humans are complex and sometimes there’s stuff going on in our brains that we’re not even aware of. The stories we tell ourselves about our lives may not be true, and we have to dig deep to see what’s really going on. Here’s an example:

Brenda talks to a LiveWell Coach for help with getting active. She says the main thing that gets in the way is lack of time. However, when they discuss this further, it turns out she spends a fair bit of time doing things like watching TV and browsing social media. When her coach asks which is more important - those activities or getting active - it dawns on Brenda that her issue is really lack of motivation. Now she knows this, she can work on her motivation and start planning how she’ll prioritise moving more over other activities.

Feel Better

Feeling low or anxious can make it feel impossible to get started with a healthier lifestyle. In this case, the first step might be to reduce those negative feelings before even trying to make other changes. If you think this might be true for you, ask yourself what you could do to improve your overall wellbeing. Read about 5 simple steps to wellbeing in this handy guide

Try it Out

Often we create theories about everything that could go wrong when we do something new: ‘I’ll embarrass myself’; ‘I’ll fail’; ‘I won’t be any good at it’. We picture the worst, even before we get started. By just doing it, we put our theories to the test, and often end up proving them wrong! This sort of ‘personal experiment’ can be really helpful in tackling unhelpful thoughts.


Finding it tough?

Developing healthy habits isn’t easy, and we know you may need a bit of extra support. Feel free to contact us to see how our Wellness Coaching service could help you overcome the obstacles and work towards healthy change. 

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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