THE BLOG

5 Ways To Gamify Your Health

12/09/2015 02:28 EST | Updated 12/09/2016 05:12 EST
Eric Pelaez via Getty Images
Two puzzle pieces running in the park

My clients are my greatest teachers. They help me understand what works when it comes to healthy routine integration.

I can educate and inspire them as much as I'd like, but the important question remains:

How can we empower people to take better care of their minds and bodies?

Is gamification the answer?

Ever since I Co-Founded Camp Reset, I've been toying with the idea of using play to inspire health transformation specifically in the context of my 1-on-1 coaching and speaking gigs. First off it's free, as there is no app or device required. Secondly, the barrier to entry is lower if the information is being delivered in a way that binds it with some of our most precious childhood memories.

If we can plant the right seeds to get people excited about getting well, then we've passed the rough waters, and can now focus on education and results.

Here are my five suggested methods of using play to inspire health transformation:

1. Create your own hip-hop mantra

A mantra is a word or a sound that is intended to help one concentrate during meditation. In other words, a mantra is meant to support presence and freedom from distracting thoughts. I see two problems with mantras as they stand today. Firstly, how can we expect to connect to words we didn't come up with? Second, how can we expect to remember to sing a song whose rhythm isn't aligned with our preferred genre of music?

So, a simple way to work around these two barriers to application is to:

  • Come up with your own mantra using inspiring words that directly speak to you (eg., nature, love, energy)
  • Match your new mantra to an inspiring melody of your choosing!

2. Write self-love letters

The self-love movement is underway, but truth be told, people are still largely confused about how to go about loving themselves and more importantly, how to feel the love they express to themselves. Love letters are not unknown to us. In fact, they've been romantically penned for centuries.

So here's an idea: Instruct people to write love letters or love notes as if they were writing them to the person they were infatuated with. Perhaps you go so far as providing them with the parchment-like paper and calligraphy pen so they can channel their inner Shakespeare. If they can rhyme it, all the better! The letter should be left somewhere so that they can come across it later like a love booby trap. How about a note that says "You are an image of perfection, without need of correction." to be found in the kitchen cupboard between the coconut oil and the raw greens powder?

3. Beat the clock

This can be the ultimate gamification. How can a b-ball game be exciting without a buzzer-beating slam-dunk? The clock can make anything fun as long as we set things up with the right level of challenge.

One of my favourite examples of beat the clock involves a mash-up of health-related tasks. Make a balanced green smoothie and do three sets of 25 burpies in 10 minutes flat. Clean-up included? Are you up for it? This is a great way to get your day into gear.

If you enjoy this kind of challenge, you can expand it to your work day. I like use the Pomodoro technique to improve my output and have more fun. These are 25-minute periods of intense focus. You'll be so impressed with what you delivered when the buzzer sounds, you'll hear the roar of the crowd.

4. See how long you can go without a negative thought

I've had my clients track the amount of times negative thoughts infiltrate their minds on a daily basis. Often, their follow-up challenge will be to turn the negative remark or thought into a positive. This form of mental rewiring and reframing of limiting beliefs, if practiced consistently, can really have a significantly positive impact on your life. Considering we only have a certain amount of conscious bandwidth, it's important to help ourselves remember this exercise. My suggestion is always to write down your daily self-care tasks on sticky/taped notes and place them in spots you know you'll see on a regular basis, like the back of your cellphone, on your laptop next to your keyboard or on the washroom mirror. Be creative and try to make them stand out... glitter-sharpies and pipe-cleaner frames can catch even the doziest eye.

5. Worse-than-death punishment for non-compliance

This exercise tends to work really well for my clients who celebrate the success of their baby steps with self-destructive gluttony (eg., going out for greasy pizza after three straight days of clean eating) but is not for everyone! If you fall into this category and you also believe in harsh punishment as a motivator, then read on...

It's important here to understand what worse-than-death punishment means to you. For some people, it could mean co-operating with organizations that are 100 per cent against your values and ethics. For others it could be social humiliation. Examples based on specific aversions could be:

  • Officially sign up for an event supporting the tar sands industry
  • Attending your next social outing wearing something that takes you far out of your comfort zone, like a pink tutu or a Nickelback shirt
  • Spending a full day working out of McDonald's and owning it (yeah, that's me talking)

Accountability partners are mandatory for this!

If we can motivate people to consistently build healthy practices into their day, empowerment will be at an all time high.

And as we know, empowerment leads to change.

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