Today’s Power Tip: Use Action Triggers to Improve Your Health
As February comes to a close it is an opportune time to reflect on our New Year’s resolutions made only a short two months ago. For many of us, they may have already gone by the wayside.
Two common resolutions that many people make that are extremely important for our bones and overall health are:
It is easy to say, “I am going to exercise and relax more this coming year,” but have you truly made an effort to weave both of these essential activities into your weekly routine? I am going to discuss the concept of action triggers and how you can use this strategy to build lasting habits to keep your resolutions.
I was introduced to the concept of action triggers from the book Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. An action trigger is a behavior you will do when a certain situation occurs. For example, you might say to yourself, “I am going to exercise as soon as I come home from work.” You have tied a specific healthy behavior, exercise, with an action trigger, coming home from work. In this way it becomes a habit. Studies have proven that action triggers motivate people to accomplish their goals. According to NYU psychologist, Peter Gollwitzer, action triggers eliminate the need for conscious deliberation. When the trigger occurs, you will respond with your pre-determined activity. I have clients do balance and strength training exercises right after they walk their dogs. Others turn on their favorite music and dance as soon as they turn their computers off.
The key is to find an activity you are already involved with and tack on the things you want to accomplish. One of my favorite action triggers is breathing before eating. I am in the habit of automatically taking five slow, deep, relaxing breaths every time I sit down to enjoy a meal. Doing this simple practice puts my body in a relaxed state before I eat. As a result I eat less, eat slower, savor my food, and improve my absorption of nutrients. It also helps keep me relaxed throughout the day. Reducing the stress hormone, cortisol, is important for maintaining strong bones and good health. This technique has proven to be a winner with my clients.
Try using action triggers. I know you are fully capable of achieving your resolutions!