Microsteps: Small Behavioral Changes to a Healthier and Happier You

Bianca L. Boyd
Bianca L. Boyd
November 10, 2023
min read
Technically reviewed by: 
Diagnox Staff
Microsteps: Small Behavioral Changes to a Healthier and Happier You

We live in times fraught with insecurities. Wars and conflicts, economic challenges, career concerns, inflationary pressures, and, on top of it all, our addictive dependence on gadgets all translate into complex challenges for our health and well-being [8]. It requires us to take a step back and reassess how our lifestyle has evolved in response to the complexities of modern life [1]. Undoubtedly, there's a need for change in our behaviors, and experts underline the need to educate people about the role healthy behavior can play in preventing or delaying disease.

It's no secret that we live in challenging times, where our priorities for personal health and well-being often take a backseat.

Behavior change may not be easy to achieve, but it is very much attainable if approached properly. It comes in small installments and needs cultivation. Clinical care and innovation expert Scott Young insists a healthy behavior change is about making healthy choices easy. Simple measures, he says, like a walking meeting, healthy food options on the menu, or having well-lit staircases at office buildings, could prompt a positive change in an individual.

Habit-forming actions are simple and achievable.

Les Robinson, the director of Enabling Change [5], an Australia-based social change consultancy, also seconds the idea that change calls for a conducive environment: "…people change their own behaviors. Our role is to create an enabling environment and provide opportunities for people to become inspired by what their peers have achieved."

It is, therefore, for the people themselves to create opportunities and adopt habits in the interest of their personal health and wellness. Instead of spending hefty amounts of money on treatments, recovery, and rehabilitation, it makes better sense to adopt a set of healthy practices that prevent and preempt disease. And it does not have to translate into big targets or unrealistic resolutions that eventually end up being unfulfilled.

It goes without saying: prevention is better than treatment. Make healthy choices for a healthier future.

Arianna Huffington of Thrive Global [6] asserts it is all about microsteps, which she describes as the building blocks of habits that promise better health outcomes. LifeStance Health [4], a company that deals in mental, behavioral, and emotional wellness, recommends a set of small steps one can take right away. These could be anything like committing to sleep early, bringing one healthy change in meals, journaling about one's feelings, taking a walk, calling a supportive friend, etc. Microsteps like these lead to long-term changes and yield positive outcomes.

Start by incorporating small incremental changes (microsteps) for a lasting positive impact on your health.

B. J. Fogg, a Stanford Behavioral Scientist [3], has created a framework of what he calls "tiny habits" that lead to a lasting change. In his book Tiny Habits (2020), Dr. Fogg puts forth "The Fogg Method," which he explains in the form of a simple B = MAP equation. "Behavior (B) happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment."

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Microsteps or tiny habits, when pegged with Canadian-American psychologist Albert Bandura's concept of "self-efficacy," [7] lend an interesting new dimension to our understanding of behavior change dynamics. Self-efficacy refers to a person's belief in his or her ability to exercise control over things that affect their life. This has been linked with diverse daily-life benefits such as negotiating with stress, improved workplace productivity, higher educational accomplishment, etc. In the field of health psychology, the concept has successfully been applied to diverse areas like smoking, alcohol, self-handling of chronic disease, pain management, etc.

The point is pretty simple: making small changes in behavior leads to healthy habits, and in turn, to healthy lives. Incorporating in your routine activities as simple and diverse as coloring, cooking, drawing, reading, running, rope-skipping, trainspotting, birdwatching, or street-wandering can have tremendous health benefits. Or you could try something like Maya Angelou's "a day away," which she describes as a day of absence from the bonds and commitments that hold us in harness.

Once in a while, everyone should have a day away when problems and their solutions are kept at bay.

  1. Angelou, Maya. Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now, Random House, New York, 1993. 137-139.
  2. Carey, Michael P., Forsyth, Andrew D., Teaching Tip Sheet: Self-Efficacy, American Psychological Association.
  3. Fogg, B. J.
  4. How Healthy Behaviors Support Mental Health, LifeStance Health.
  5. How the science of behavior change can help with sustainability | GSB Editorial Network | The Guardian.
  6. Huffington, Arriana. Microsteps: The Big Idea That's Too Small to Fail.
  7. Lopez-Garrido, G (2020, Aug 09). Self-efficacy. Simply Psychology.
  8. The Challenges of Modernity.
  9. Young S. Healthy behavior change in practical settings. Perm J. 2014 Fall;18(4):89-92.
About the Author
Bianca L. Boyd

Bianca L. Boyd is an audiologist and healthcare content writer passionate about understanding how various body biomarkers can provide insight into human health. With a degree in audiology, Bianca has dedicated her career to helping individuals with hearing impairments. She has always been fascinated by the ways in which the body can give us clues about our overall health and well-being.

As a healthcare content writer, Bianca has found a way to share her knowledge and expertise with a wider audience, helping to educate and inform people about the importance of maintaining good health. She is thrilled to be working with Diagnox, a company that shares her passion for improving the lives of others.

In her spare time, Bianca volunteers her time and efforts to animal rescue, working to help animals in need find loving homes and receive the care they deserve. With a strong sense of community and a deep commitment to making a positive impact, Bianca is dedicated to making a difference in the world.

About the Reviewer
This blog was
Technically reviewed by: 
Diagnox Staff

Diagnox Staff consists of a multidisciplinary team of scientists, content writers, and healthcare professionals with an expertise to create and review high-quality, informative, accurate, and easy-to-understand content for both professionals and everyday readers. Our staff follows strict guidelines to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the information, reviewing them independently and verifying them by various scientific and technical sources to ensure accuracy. Our review team believes in delivering knowledge free from bias to improve public health and well-being.

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