365 days is all it takes to be a new person. Don’t hold me to the math, but I was recently part of a group that believes a 1% improvement every day throughout an entire year results in quite a bit of change in a person.
This certainly is true of health and wellness. Much of health and wellness is about “nudges.” Nudges to eat well, to get all your nutrients, to drink enough water, to get the body into motion, to get well, etc. These little nudges make a daunting task seem more manageable.
Nudging is 90% of what I do in my work. I’m a wellness coach for truck drivers and for people who commonly sit as customary to their work functions. I see great people who are essential in supporting to our nation’s economy and are imperative to supply chains and logistics, but I also see the toll of this job on people’s bodies on a daily basis
When I talk with truckers, I keep things positive and I insist that something nudge-like can happen today for their personal wellness. It can be as simple as drinking water, figuring out how those fitness gadgets work, walking around your truck or waiting area when your truck is being loaded, making a phone call to a favorite auntie, or scheduling your annual DOT physical.
I’ll even give you a clever N-U-D-G-E acronym to keep it fresh in your memory:
N-Now is the time
U-Understand I try to be well
D-Daily is the frequency
G-Gains to my wellness
E-Eventually I achieve!
Nudges need not be some daunting goal, rather something you can do in the next five minutes that opens up some wellness back towards yourself. If you think of nudges like an improvement of 1% that day, every single day, you can see the math add up to you being an expert nudger within a year’s time. You could really surprise yourself with how these nudges can change you.
Nudges can be family-oriented too. You may have someone in your family who you care for or guide. When they need help, I bet you already have good advice to offer. A nudge is just the next step. This step is an actual activity after a good thought. Nudges can be performed much more for children and teens, but as always, make sure that there is consent and it doesn’t rob an opportunity for a child or teen to practice independence or trial-and-error learning.
Nudges aren’t quite suggestions. That would be too passive. You’ll have to figure out the context of when a nudge is more appropriate than a suggestion. For example, a nudge is like opening a newborn’s savings account in the hopes that they contribute funds throughout their lifespan, whereas a suggestion would be a stock market tip in cryptocurrency investments between adults in conversation.
Nudges might appeal to personality types. For example, if you’re highly goal-oriented, a nudge is not only something you probably do automatically, but something you might bring to a group, such as potential synergy. Let’s say you’re a good organizer. Chances are that quality would be an asset to a group in need of structure and function. You would see organization through and would infuse your skill set into the task. Good organizers nudge a group into harmony.
Nudges are great for when are ready for change. Let’s say you’ve been a long-term smoker, but you are ready to see what’s out there as far as ways to quit smoking. The nudge would be to call a minute clinic (since they may have smoking cessation as part of their menu of services) and find out about that service. The next day’s nudge would be to decide if that is something to pursue, and then commit to going to the minute clinic. Before too long, you are well on your way to finding a smoking cessation option that works for you, by doing something daily in practice towards perfection or reaching your goal of not smoking.
Nudging is a great way to open yourself up to small, little activities every day that become a wellness habit. Be good to yourself, and nudge away!
-Melissa Frank, Psy.D.