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Change: the maintenance stage

This stage of change involves successfully avoiding former behaviours and continuing with the new behaviours.

If you are trying to maintain a new behaviour:

  1. Look for ways to avoid temptation.
  2. Try to replace old habits with positive actions.
  3. Reward yourself when you successfully avoid a relapse.

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During this stage of change, you might begin making small changes to prepare for a larger change. For example, if losing weight is your goal, you might switch to lower-fat foods or join a health club.

The best-known approach to change is the Stages of Change or Transtheoretical Model, that was introduced in the 1970s as a way to help people quit smoking.

To make a successful change, you need to understand three elements in changing a behaviour:

Making a lasting change in behaviour can be very difficult. It requires a commitment of time, effort, and emotion.

During this stage of change, people begin taking direct action in order to accomplish their goals. But resolutions may fail because the previous steps have not been given enough attention.

During this stage of change, people are ignorant of the problem, claiming their behaviour is not a problem. You may feel resigned to your current state or think you have no control over your behaviour.

People become increasingly aware of the potential benefits of making a change, but the costs to make the change creates conflict and uncertainty that can last months or even years. People in this stage view change as a process of giving something up rather than a means of gain.

Relapses are common in any behaviour change. You may experience feelings of failure, disappointment, and frustration. Don't let these setbacks undermine your self-confidence. Instead, take a good look at why it happened. What triggered the relapse? How can you av...

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