behavioral health

Behavioral Health: Understanding and Implementing Healthy Habits


Behavioral health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, encompassing emotional, psychological, and social health. Behavioral health issues can affect anyone, regardless of physical ability. 

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, our social well-being has been greatly impacted. If you notice changes in your behavior or mental state, or if your alcohol or drug use is causing problems, it is important to seek help from healthcare professionals, licensed behavioral therapists, or health coaches. Recovery is possible, and support is available.

What is Behavior Change?

Behavioral health involves the study of a person’s emotions, behaviors, and biology in relation to their mental well-being, functioning in daily life, and self-perception. 

It examines the connection between physical, mental, and spiritual health behaviors, including how eating, drinking, and exercise impact mental and physical health, as well as decision-making and interactions with others.

What are Health Behavior? 

Health behaviors are actions that directly influence our well-being. These behaviors can either benefit or harm our health. 

Examples include alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, exercise, and sexual activity. However, not everyone has equal access, privilege, or financial resources to make healthy choices. Health behaviors are influenced by factors such as living conditions, education, occupation, and community resources.

The transtheoretical model of behavior change is an integrative theory that assesses an individual’s readiness to adopt healthier behaviors. It provides strategies or processes of change to guide individuals through each stage of change.

The 6 Stages Of Behavior Change

According to the transtheoretical model, there are six stages of behavior change:

  • Pre-contemplation: In this stage, individuals are not aware of the need to change their behavior. They may not see their behavior as a problem and are unwilling to seek help. External pressure may be required to prompt them to consider change.
  • Contemplation: Individuals in this stage are aware of the negative outcomes of their behavior but are not yet ready to make a change. They weigh the pros and cons and consider the long-term benefits of change.
  • Preparation or Decision Making: This stage involves a commitment to change and taking active steps towards it. Individuals gather information, create a plan, and make lifestyle adjustments to support the change.
  • Action: During the action stage, individuals implement the new behavior, relying on the strategies learned in the previous stage. Willpower and support from others play a crucial role in maintaining the new behavior.
  • Maintenance: In this stage, individuals work to sustain the new behavior and understand its long-term benefits. They develop strategies to prevent relapse and make the behavior a habit.
  • Termination or Relapse: The termination stage is when individuals have successfully integrated the new behavior into their lives and have no desire to engage in unhealthy behaviors again. Relapse is possible but less common at this stage.

Necessary Aspects To Help With Health Behavior Change

Implementing behavior change requires attention to specific aspects:

  • Nutrition: Making gradual changes to improve dietary habits is essential. Start by making one small change at a time, such as reducing soda consumption or increasing vegetable intake.
  • Physical Activity: Incorporate physical activity into daily routines by taking small steps like walking short distances, using stairs instead of elevators, or engaging in activities you enjoy. Set goals, track progress, and seek support for motivation.
  • Medication Adherence: Set reminders, use pillboxes or smartphone apps, and establish a routine to ensure consistent medication adherence.
  • Sleep Improvement: Follow a four-step process to improve sleep patterns and reduce insomnia, including tracking sleep time, setting wake-up times, and gradually limiting time spent in bed.

By focusing on these necessary aspects, individuals can make positive changes in their health behaviors. It’s important to remember that behavior change takes time and practice. Even small steps can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being. 

Consult with healthcare professionals, licensed behavioral therapists, or health coaches to discuss specific changes and get guidance throughout the process.

Jerome Puryear

Dr. Jerome Puryear Jr., MD, MBA, is a Health and Well-being coach and renowned Obesity in Medicine expert. With a holistic perspective on patient care, Dr. JP is dedicated to helping individuals maximize their health and well-being.