Developing and maintaining healthy habits is challenging for everyone. When you have lupus, it can be even more so, because of the complexities and unpredictability of the condition. In her presentation, Ms. Seehaus shared how motivation is developed, cultivated and maintained, and she offered strategies for building healthy habits and staying motivated to maintain them.
Her objectives for the program were for workshop members to:
“Motivation” is a word we often hear in relation to discussions on healthy habits such as:
Motivation has been described as the directive of one's behaviors, or that which drives someone to repeat certain behaviors. Cultivating the motivation to improve health is an idea that can be difficult put into action. Change is hard! But people change every day.
Motivational factors may be:
What motivates someone to create and maintain healthy habits? For patients with lupus, the most sustainable motivational factors to maintain healthy habits are internal. These include the desire to:
Common external factors, however, may include managing relationships with family and loved ones, since illness can put stress on those relationships.
The various components of motivation were summarized in terms of:
In order to accomplish and maintain your goals, consider your:
An element that is critical to building and maintaining motivation that translates into change is to identify your “why” – that is, a conscious reasoning, rationale or purpose that underlies your motivation. As described by a group member, “your 'why' helps push you when you want to give up, because you understand why you are doing what you do and why not to quit."
Ms. Seehaus stated that, when considering new goals or revisiting goals that may not have been accomplished, you should aim to be clear and intentional about what you want to achieve. To describe this intentionality, she used the acronym SMART:
In collaboration with Ms. Seehaus, support group members identified the following healthy habits for people living with lupus:
Ms. Seehaus explained the stages of change as a cyclical process that begins with “precontemplation.” She displayed the cycle of stages through the use of the diagram shown here.
Group members shared personal experiences of being at different stages within the change model in regard to their own health habits and how that affected their journey living with lupus. The complete stages of changes are listed below, along with the steps you can take at each stage to move along to the next:
Members noted that maintaining a healthy diet was the most challenging. One member shared that “eating healthy used to be a struggle, and I stayed in the stage of contemplation regarding healthy eating but, finally, when I put my thoughts to action, I can say now I am in the stage of maintenance.” Ms. Seehaus reemphasized the fact that the stages of change are not always followed in sequential order and that people may – and often do – enter or exit at different stages of change.
When attempting to build and maintain healthy habits, it is helpful to be in tune with yourself and understand the tendencies you may fall into. Ms. Seehaus discussed the work of Gretchen Rubin on the four categories of “tendencies” people may have in their relationship to change. She shared strategies for each persona – methods each type of person can use to help accomplish their goals:
Ms. Seehaus introduced the concept of “radical acceptance” – accepting life on life’s terms and not fighting against that which you cannot or choose not to change. She described radical acceptance as “saying yes to life, just as it is.” For patients with lupus, this can be understood as:
Lastly, it is important to understand that change is not easy, but it is achievable.
For more information on how to build and maintain motivation for healthy habits, please visit: