It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down and school is about to (or already has) start. I know for many parents this time is met with mixed emotions. On the one hand they think, how can another year have passed? How can my little (or not so little anymore) one be hitting yet another one of life’s milestones? How can the lazy days of summer be over? But at the same time they feel excited for the new experiences that they are in store for. They look forward to the more structured days and to be honest, getting them out of the house. But feelings aside, the reality is this time of year brings CHANGE and for many that can mean deviating from their healthy living goals. There are plenty of potential barriers from carpool, to homework, to after school and weekend activities and these definitely can put a kink in our efforts towards healthy living.
But really, isn’t LIFE one big barrier?! The reality is barriers are always going to be there, no matter what we are going through. The good news is the skills that you have used to overcome and minimize barriers before can be applied time and time again. The first step of course is identifying what it is that is standing in your way. Better yet, do some preventative work and identify what could possibly stand in your way so that you are prepared if and when it does. Once identified you can use the skill of problem solving to address and overcome them. Problem solving is the skill of using creative thinking to find realistic and effective solutions for overcoming barriers. If you are anything like me, often just the thought of something can be so overwhelming. Because I build it up so much in my head I then avoid the situation or even avoid thinking about it entirely. When I finally do make myself deal with it (which is usually because I am forced to because of external reasons), I realize that it really wasn’t as bad as I had thought; that I was making more of it than I needed to be. If I had just taken the time to truly think about the situation and then create a plan for dealing with it I would save my self A LOT of anxiety and stress! And that is where the power of identification and problem solving come in. Sometimes the act of identifying barriers alone gives us the confidence to forge ahead!
So today I challenge you to think about the upcoming school year, or whatever life is currently throwing your way, and identify what might stand in your way of making healthy choices. Then develop a list of potential solutions. For instance, if your kids have a soccer game on the weekend, you can go for a walk around the fields while they are warming up to fit in your physical activity. If cooking on the weeknights is challenging, prepare meals in big batches so you can have leftovers. You can also visit our Barrier Buster tool for some more potential ideas or give our “Break Down Barriers” activity a try. You may even want to try brainstorming with a friend, however; only you know what is going to be most realistic and work best in your life. From your list, decide which of the solutions makes most sense for you but keep your other solutions handy in case you need to try another one. After all, finding what works is a trial and error process and what works today might not work tomorrow! When the time is right, put your plan into action and then analyze its effectiveness.
Remember, living well is a journey, not a destination! Using the skills of barrier identification and problem solving will ALWAYS have a place. Share with us some of the solutions that have worked for you. You never know when your idea might spark a potential solution for someone else!