Sea Change... Tree Change… Behaviour Change

Last time, here at the Mental Fitness Corner, we looked at how thoughts affect how we feel and behave. We saw how we can challenge an unhelpful thought and replace it with a more helpful, realistic one.

Interestingly enough, behaviour also affects how we feel and think. We’ve all heard of, or even considered embarking on, a sea or tree change. Well, these are examples of behaviour change. But sometimes location changes are not possible. That doesn’t mean that we can’t change our behaviour, replacing unbeneficial habits with ones that help us better manage our mood, anxiety and stress levels.

We have opportunities to embark on a virtual seachange / tree change on a daily basis without ever moving…. Are you with me?

Well, how might that work? Let’s choose a habit that we wish to change, such as the tendency to procrastinate. The next step is to list the tasks that need completion and prioritise them according to importance and deadline. This would be followed with committing to each task, breaking it into small bite-sized steps, and setting a time in the day to engage in the steps, e.g., tasks may be work-related, such as responding to emails – setting time in the morning, prioritising which ones need to be responded to first, followed by ones that need short responses, then ones that need longer responses, and so on. Other tasks may be self-care related, e,g,. walking, gym, relaxation – setting time in the day, days in the week, location, and so on.

Once you begin to carve out these short intervals for your tasks and/or activities, it will be easier to build on them, making these new habits a part of your daily life. Finally, you will need to monitor your progress to ensure that you are on track. Please note that this is a process that will take place over time, not just overnight.

How does this behavioural change approach affect how you might think and feel?

Well, the more do-able bite-sized steps can help manage the anxious feeling that might stop you from getting started. Also, working on these small steps will help you develop evidence to support the thought that you can complete a task and develop new, more helpful habits. You will find that your to-do list is getting shorter, and that will help you feel less overwhelmed.

You will find yourself transitioning from procrastination to action and approaching new goals with a different perspective.

Something to take with you: Behaviour change is possible when you focus on the process rather than just the goal.

Get in touch with Shire Doctors and Dentists today

Important: If you find yourself struggling to navigate your emotions or are experiencing significant distress, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and help you develop personalised strategies to manage your emotions effectively.

Dr Rosanna Francis is a clinical psychologist who believes in the inner strength of the individual, and the value of tapping into these strengths and learning new skills to help one live a more comfortable, fulfilling life. She has over 20 years experience working across a diverse range of psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, complex trauma, relationships, stress, self-confidence, and emotion regulation; and, a special interest (research & clinical) in working with people with high intellectual ability who struggle with anxiety.