As mentioned in a news article on a recent study conducted by Frida Skarin, a PhD student at the Service Research Center, Karlstad University, maintaining changes in lifestyle and behavior can be challenging. In her doctoral thesis, titled “Positive change for wellbeing: Maintained intervention-induced Behaviors and healthier lifestyles,” Skarin explores the psychological mechanisms of how to maintain a new behavior.
Skarin notes that while changes in lifestyle and behavior may be easy to make, they are often short-lived. Therefore, it is essential to understand how to maintain these changes in the long term. As mentioned in a news article on Skarin, the common denominator for succeeding in maintaining intervention-induced behavioral change is genuinely wanting to change one’s behavior, not just seeing results. Additionally, having a plan that allows for flexibility and preparation in response to new conditions that may arise during the different phases of the behavioral change process is crucial.
Skarin’s thesis focuses on lifestyle behaviors such as increased car use, stress, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diets that negatively affect people’s health at both an individual and global level. These behaviors also impact the environment and the economy. While there needs to be a shift in these behaviors, ingrained behaviors are not easy to change.
There are many different interventions available to help people with various types of behavioral changes, such as how to eat healthier. However, many of these interventions are short-term solutions, which leads to short-term changes. Skarin conducted three field studies on how lifestyle changes can be made and maintained using behavioral change programs.
The first field study involved changing a relatively basic, isolated behavior: how people travel to work. The second field study involved different levels of complexity and scope of behaviors related to well-being. The third field study focused on changes in several complex behaviors simultaneously, such as changes in eating behavior and physical activity.
Despite growing problems, research on how healthier lifestyle changes can be maintained over time, instead of making short-term changes, has been sparse. Skarin emphasizes the need for more research on how to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
The findings of Skarin’s thesis highlight the importance of focusing on behavioral goals, perceiving the change as positive during the intervention, and experiencing gains. Maintaining a new behavior requires effort, motivation, and a willingness to change. Having a plan that allows for flexibility and preparation in response to new conditions that may arise during the different phases of the behavioral change process is crucial for long-term success.
As the final thought, maintaining changes in lifestyle and behavior can be challenging, but it is possible with the right strategies. Frida Skarin’s research provides insights into the psychological mechanisms of how to maintain a new behavior. By focusing on behavioral goals, perceiving the change as positive, and experiencing gains, people can maintain healthier lifestyles in the long term.