Slipping on Your Wellness Routine? How to Stick to it.

Slipping on your wellness routine is not the end of the world. Here's how to keep a lapse from becoming a relapse.

The journey to health and wellness doesn’t always move in a straight line. People are human and prone to slip-ups on their goals as they strive to enrich their lives with healthy behaviors. Consider the walking group at work, for example. At first, everyone was gung-ho. A group of colleagues was out there every day, even in the cold. But as the months went by, work encroached. Before long, sitting became the new walking.

The trick is to avoid feelings of guilt by identifying whether a person is experiencing a lapse in behavior or a more serious relapse. A lapse is a temporary slip-up, often a single occasion, when someone forgets or feels a lack of willpower. A relapse, on the other hand, is an extended drift from healthy behaviors that can lead to a reduction or disappearance of the behavior’s benefits. The idea is not to let a lapse turn into a relapse.

Take a look at the following anonymous stories. Do any of these relate to you? Each one includes tips from a certified health and wellness coach that can keep them from becoming habit:

Sweets sneak in

Slip: “I am committed to eating healthier portions and reducing additional sweets. I was on a roll until a retirement party at work. I had an extra slice of pizza and some cake. When I got home, I figured I already messed up, so I ordered fried take-out food for dinner. I felt discouraged and wasn’t sure how to restart the next day.”

Tip: Recognize the slip and accept it. Ask yourself what strategies you can put into place to prevent this from happening again. Perhaps, next time, allow yourself just one slice of pizza and one bite of cake. Keep in mind that eating the entire slice of cake and ignoring your health goals may hurt more than tossing sweets into the garbage bin.

Exercise evaporates

Slip: “For two months, I had gotten into the routine of walking 45 minutes, three days a week after work. One week, the weather was cold and rainy and I missed two of my walks. The next week, I only walked once as well. I felt like I was failing myself.”

Tip: Sometimes boredom can lead to a lapse. To prevent relapsing into no exercise, allow yourself to refocus. Try setting a new goal: walk in a new location or with earphones and your favorite music. Also, make a rainy day backup plan in case the weather is unfriendly. Tell yourself this is a small slip and allow yourself to get back up.

Quitting goes up in smoke

Slip: “After smoking a pack a day for 25 years, I started a quit plan and was tobacco free for three weeks. Then I had a stressful week at work; we were short-staffed and super busy. I kept thinking a cigarette would calm me down. When I gave in, I destroyed my three-week status and just craved more cigarettes. I felt like I lost my winning streak.”

Tip: Think of this in the same way as driving down the highway, and missing your exit. You can easily turn around and get back to your destination of being smoke-free. It is normal to have a lapse. Remind yourself why being tobacco-free is so important to you. Rediscover your motivation and find creative ways to help manage stress triggers when they arise.

Time to refocus

There are a couple of basics to keeping a lapse from developing further. First, remember it is temporary and can be reversed. Second, you can change your original goals to find what is most important to you in the moment. Third, take note of situations, people or patterns that have a pull to previous behavior and avoid them.

When a lapse occurs, people often need assistance to set new goals and get refocused. This can help them remember and reconnect with their ability to put their strengths to work. By believing in themselves, people can regain a sense of control so they can resist cake, the couch, a carton of cigarettes or any other unhealthy temptation with more success!

The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of your health care provider. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to your health care provider.

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