Couple moving

Transitions of opportunity

We all know that big changes in life can be stressful. Events like moving house, changing jobs or changing relationship status can all threaten to damage your health. However, a new study has shown that those life transitions can also be life opportunities to change your behaviour for the better, especially when it comes to your sustainable lifestyle choices.

The time when your life has been tossed up into the air is when you can make changes and get the pieces of your life to fall back where you want them to.

The new study was based on the “habit discontinuity hypothesis” which states that interventions designed to change behaviours are most effective when delivered when life changes are happening. The study involved more than 800 adults, some of whom had just moved house and some who had not. Some subjects experienced no intervention while others received education about using less water (taking shorter showers etc), reducing waste (recycling more), reducing energy use (washing at lower temperatures etc) and making more sustainable transport choices.

The results showed that people who had just moved were in fact more likely to make changes in their behaviour than those who had not. However, there was a window of around three months in which these changes had to happen before new behaviour patterns became solidified again.

Clearly, if you want to get people making better environmental choices, then the time to get them is when they have just moved house but the implications are broader than that.

We all become entrenched in habitual ways of doing things; the longer you have been doing things a certain way, the deeper the trench and the more difficult to get out of it. So don’t view life changes and transitions as all bad, they are also an opportunity. The time when your life has been tossed up into the air is when you can make changes and get the pieces of your life to fall back where you want them to. Transitions in life are a certainty; it’s what you do with them that is up to you.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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