Five Top Tips for Overcoming Setbacks and Relapses

Overcoming setbacks and relapses

Working towards improved health and wellbeing is an incredible feeling, right? It's good to be making positive choices and you are feeling better for it. But what happens if you go off the rails and suffer  a setback or relapse?

It can be all too easy to feel like you have failed and give up on your goal all together. But, before you give up on your health and wellbeing goals, let’s take a look at my top five tips for overcoming setbacks and relapses.

1. See this as a learning opportunity

When you encounter a setback or relapse it’s common to consider it as a personal failure. You may feel:

  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Guilty
  • Depressed

But the reality is, no one can be perfect 100% of the time. Setbacks are a natural part of any health and fitness journey, but changing the way you think about them is a powerful tool in getting back on track to meet your goals.

You have noticed that you have gone off track, this is a good thing. It means you care about the goal you set for yourself or your family. Think about why you went off track in the first place:

  • Was there a particular stress involved?
  • What happened?
  • Was it avoidable or a one-off event?

The journey to a healthier lifestyle rarely follows a straight line. This is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your family. By acknowledging you are human and recognising what went wrong you can reset your sights on your goal, with a deeper understanding of your own behaviour.

2. Identify your hooks or triggers

Hooks are triggers that can knock you off track from your goals. When you encounter a trigger, it can be extremely tempting to give in and have that treat or miss that walk.

They can happen at any time, in any place and often they follow a pattern that is unique to you. Think about what it was that pulled you off track to begin with. Were you:

  • Tired?
  • Hungry?
  • Stressed?
  • Bored?
  • Hanging out with friends?
  • Listening to your children ask for takeaways?

Knowing and recognising which triggers pull you off track gives you the opportunity to plan how you’ll respond. Consider what you were doing and how you were feeling at the time you encountered your setback or relapse. You can’t always avoid a trigger, but you can use this information to make a plan of how you will deal with it, so you don’t get off track again.

3. Make a plan

Once you know what your triggers are, and you have reframed your setback as an opportunity for personal growth, it’s a good idea to make a plan.

Planning is an essential component in overcoming setbacks and relapses. You know what your triggers are so you can prepare a range of options that will assist you in making healthier choices next time you encounter a hook.

Your plan doesn’t need to be complex. If you have found yourself nipping in to get takeaways as you drive home from work, you could plan to:

  • Avoid driving past takeaway shops by driving a different way
  • Prepare Friday night’s dinner in the morning or the night before
  • Take a healthy snack with you for when you or your children are genuinely hungry
  • Complete errands on another day so you can get home earlier

Having a plan will help you feel more in control when you encounter these triggers, and when you feel more in control you will be more likely to  achieve your goal.

4. Engage in mindful practices

Mindfulness is a great way to re-centre yourself, so you are able to focus on what you really want out of life. There are lots of mindfulness practices you can engage in, but they all have one thing in common, they all focus on your breath.

Whether you choose to:

  • meditate
  • do yoga, or
  • practice mindful breathing

you will benefit from feeling more centred and grounded. When you are centred and grounded, you’re more likely to make positive choices, avoid triggers and stick to your plan to achieve your goal.

Connecting with your breath daily, in whatever way suits you and your family, is a great way to restore and encourage peace within yourself and your household.

5. Share your intentions

Letting other people know your goals is a powerful way of overcoming setbacks and relapses. This doesn’t mean you need to shout it from the rooftops or create an elaborate social media post (though you can if that motivates you).

Talking to your family and friends about your goals, and your intention to get back on track and work towards them is a great way to reinvigorate your commitment, and as a bonus, they can help keep you accountable for your choices.

Need help to reach your health and wellbeing goals?

At Childhood Obesity Prevention, we understand how challenging it can be to change your lifestyle alone. We can create a plan to help you overcome your setbacks so you and your family can reach your health and wellbeing goals. We have a range of support options available to suit your family, from self-guiding your journey to healthier habits with our book Ride to Life, through to personal consultations.