The greatest challenge to creating positive health changes is overcoming the emotional barriers to change.
Whether it’s for an individual or employee population, creating healthy changes often meets resistance, even if it’s a matter of life or death.
Though it’s well known that poor health behaviors can cause diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and more, many people are unwilling or unable to make the necessary lifestyle changes to improve their health.
Humans are emotional. Many of our decisions and behaviors are driven largely by emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, apathy and fear.
These create emotional barriers to making health changes that are difficult to overcome, but not impossible.
We’re going to talk about emotional barriers to making health changes, how to overcome them, and then give you a secret weapon in the fight to create better health and cut healthcare costs.
What Exactly Is Emotional Health?
There is a mental health crisis in America today. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rising, yet hidden increase in the number of people experiencing mental health issues.
Although emotional health and mental health are often used interchangeably, they’re two different aspects of overall psychological health. Here are two quick definitions to highlight the differences:
- Mental Health – your mental health includes three types of well-being: psychological, social, and emotional. Mental health influences your thoughts, actions, and interactions with other people.
- Emotional Health – involves awareness of your emotions, the cause of these emotions, and your ability to manage and express emotions
Poor emotional health creates multiple barriers to making changes that must be overcome.
We can become emotionally attached to a habit, say eating chips while watching hours of TV in the evening after work. Or smoking a cigarette in the morning.
In short, we don’t want to change bad behaviors because we enjoy them or we’re afraid of how these changes would change our lives.
What Are The Emotional Barriers To Making Health Changes?
There are three major factors that combine to create emotional barriers to change. These include:
- Emotion – (depression, anxiety, apathy, fear, anger, etc.)
- Stress – stress affects physical, mental, and emotional health. An example is stress eating or smoking
- Motivation – without proper motivation, no health changes will be made
Even in the face of a doctor saying to a patient, “You need to lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking or you are at a high risk of a heart attack or developing diabetes” people still have a difficult time making the right health changes.
The key emotional barriers to making health changes include:
Habits are comfortable, familiar, and very difficult to change.
Fear of change can come in many forms: loss of freedom or enjoyable activity, fear of what comes next, fear of failure.
No one likes admitting there’s a problem, but the first step in change is admitting there is a problem.
- Attempting change
Even trying to make a change can be difficult due to a lack of knowledge, belief in one’s ability, motivation, support, or environmental factors.
- Sustaining change
Even if a person has overcome all of the other barriers and made a healthy change, sustaining them isn’t easy. Dangers include cognitive and motivational drift, lack of perceived progress, no social support, and relapses.
These emotional barriers are difficult and defeat many attempts at change – but they’re not impossible to overcome.
How To Remove Emotional Barriers To Make Health Changes
As daunting as the emotional barriers to making health changes may seem, there are some fairly simple strategies that, if followed, can be extremely effective:
- Make a personal assessment
An honest personal assessment of your physical and emotional situation has to happen before change can begin. It has to be logical and brutally honest with no room for denial. Focus on the negative consequences of not making the change.
- Create an actionable plan
Once the problem is identified, a concrete actionable plan needs to be created. What are you going to do? How are you going to do it? How will you keep it up?
- Remove triggers
We can’t remove all emotional triggers from our lives, but there are some we have control over. We can buy different foods or drinks while avoiding places, people, and activities that can trigger a relapse of bad behaviors.
- Manage emotional and mental health
You can’t make and sustain healthy changes without mental and emotional health. If your health changes include exercise and diet, don’t forget to manage stress and negative emotions. Meditation, journaling, mindfulness techniques or simply talking to someone are great ways to make sure you’re not neglecting your mental health.
- Understand that perfection isn’t necessary
An all or nothing approach is a sure recipe for failure. Understand and be prepared for relapses or slip-ups. Know that these are expected and OK. Don’t let them derail the changes you’ve made. Acknowledge them, and get right back up and keep going.
These are all great strategies that can have varying degrees of success. But there’s another resource that has shown remarkable success both for individuals and employee populations.
The Secret Weapon For Behavioral Change
With the rise of digital health platforms that can reach patients through their computer or phone, wherever they’re at, help is a text or phone call away.
With a dedicated 1-on-1 personal health coach, clients have a support network to help them not only overcome the emotional barriers to health changes, but sustain them over the long term.
AlbumHealth’s digital health platform puts a primary focus on the two most common factors that create emotional barriers to health changes: poor emotional/mental health and lack of support.
Our integrated technology-driven platform incorporates a primary focus on emotional and mental health with 1-on-1 active evidence-based health coaching.
These two unique features, working in concert with a full suite of apps, programs, educational resources and biometric data monitoring, create a true behavioral change platform that never leaves the client’s side.
It is always there, ready, willing and thoroughly capable to help every client break down their emotional barrier to better health.
Whether it’s helping one person or an entire company, AlbumHealth’s platform is a total health solution.
To learn more about AlbumHealth’s digital health solution, feel free to explore our website or contact us.