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Behaviour changes for a healthier lifestyle

5th May 2020

Despite the lockdown, the Solihull Lifestyle Service is still very much up and running. Our team is continuing to support people from across the borough and to provide all levels of support, whether that’s over the phone or via video calls.

Lifestyle support for Solihull clients is based on behaviour change, and that’s because it’s the best way to help people make sustainable, lifelong changes that they can manage themselves. For example, although most people are referred because they want to lose weight, it’s often not as simple as “eat less, exercise more”. Habits can be really tough to break.

But our team are experts at helping people to re-think their habits and overcome negative thinking.

Meet Kavita

Kavita (on the right in the picture) is our Senior Behaviour Change Advisor.

With a Masters (soon to be Doctorate) in Health Psychology, she supports the clients who need a little extra help to tackle lifestyle changes and to start living a happier, healthier life.

One of the people Kavita is supporting at the moment is Nina (not her real name), who was referred by her GP. Read on to find out how Behaviour Change support is about so much more than weight management – and how Nina is learning to make changes that will last a lifetime.

Nina’s story*

After trying to lose weight herself more than five times in the last year, Nina* – who is in her 20s – was struggling to know what to do next. After speaking to her doctor about it, he suggested the Solihull Lifestyle Service.

When he referred her to us, Nina’s GP told us that his main concerns for Nina were her low physical activity and low feelings of wellbeing and mood. But he also pointed out that her BMI was also at 26, which put her in the “overweight” category, and she has a high risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, since both of these run in her family.

We assigned Nina to our Senior Behaviour Change Adviser, Kavita, and they met for a one-to-one session so Kavita could assess the key problems she was experiencing.

Negative feelings

It was clear Nina was struggling to manage her weight and wanted some support to change this, but they also talked about her lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Nina explained how she has experienced these negative feelings about herself from a young age and now, as an adult, they were holding her back from doing what she really wants to do. Although she was feeling very motivated to lose weight and take more exercise – not least because she was getting married soon – she was struggling to actually make the changes.

Kavita wanted to help her get to the bottom of things.

One of the main things that came across in their first meeting was the way that Nina’s work as a nurse often cause her to experience bouts of anxiety and low mood. Together, Kavita and Nina decided to focus on this first, as this was causing her the most distress, with her mood and self-esteem lowered almost daily. Although she lives with her partner, Nina didn’t feel she could talk to him about what she was experiencing, and she has no family in the UK, so chances to talk about her feelings were rare.

Kavita gave Nina a Thoughts and Feelings diary with the instruction to complete this only when she was engaging in negative behaviours – whether or not these were related to diet and activity. The idea was that this should start to increase Nina’s awareness of what she was thinking and feeling every day, especially at work, and the impact this may have been having on her mood and self-esteem.

Breaking down the problems

Nina and Kavita have now had six sessions together and during every session, Nina tells Kavita about any new or emerging negative thoughts. Together, they break down the problem and discuss possible solutions, techniques or strategies that could help to minimise or overcome the problem, both in the short and long term.

Right now, the support sessions are having to be held over the phone, but it’s working well and Nina is keen to continue. She’s still writing in the Thoughts and Feelings diary, and finds that identifying and expressing her anxieties with work this way is helping her. Kavita helps her to identify the negative beliefs she has around a situation then, together, they challenge these and talk about replacing the anxiety with a positive prediction. “What if…?”

Nina tells Kavita she’s already feeling better and more positive, day to day. By trying to minimise the negative anxieties at work, which are influencing her general mood, it is hoped that Nina’s overall quality of life will improve, and she will find it easier to make the broader lifestyle changes she really wants to make.

How to refer into the service

The Solihull Lifestyle Service offers a range of tailored health and wellbeing advice and support to help people make positive lifestyle changes. Despite the lockdown, we are continuing to support people from across the borough and to provide all levels of support, whether that’s over the phone or via video calls.

If you live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP, call 0800 599 9880 and ask about signing up — or complete an online referral form.

*Nina’s name has been changed

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