Before you implement self-care into your life, you’re going to want to understand the stages of change for self-care. It’s one thing to start a new habit, but it’s an entirely different task to keep up the new habit. If you haven’t discovered why self-care is so important, read this post.
By understanding the stages of change, you’ll find it a lot easier to stick to the self-care habits you want to implement into your routine. So, let’s look at what the different stages of change are…
The first stage of change is known as precontemplation. This is where you aren’t really thinking of changing. You may be in denial that you need to change, or you simply may not realize that it is needed.
It is common to feel like you aren’t in control of your behavior and you are resigned to your current lifestyle. To progress from this stage, you’ll want to assess your situation and look honestly at areas which could potentially require change.
You might even find it useful to carry out a risk assessment of your current behaviors. If you continue, what consequences could they have? An example of this would be looking at your current exercise level. If you were to continue not exercising much, what consequences could it have? This will give you a good idea of whether a change is needed.
During the contemplation stage, you’ll start thinking more about the benefits of change. However, you’ll be met with conflict in the mind over the potential costs of change. Unfortunately, during this stage, you’ll tend to feel that the potential negative consequences outweigh the benefits.
This stage can last anywhere from weeks to years. Sadly, a lot of people don’t even make it past the contemplation phase. If you find it difficult to get past the thinking phase and start taking actions, you are stuck. However, you don’t have to stay stuck. You control what you think and do, so it’s your choice.
To overcome the contemplation dilemma, spend time weighing up the pros and cons. Look at any obstacles you might face and work out ways to overcome them. By going into change a little more prepared, you’ll find it much easier to stick to.
- Preparation and determination
The preparation and determination stages are where you’ll start to make changes towards your overall goal. For example, if your main self-care goal is to lose weight, you could start by cutting down on junk food.
This is an experimental stage, where you start to learn which habits to adopt to reach your goals.
It is also where you start to learn more about the changes you need to make. You may look for information and tips on websites, talk to your doctor or ask friends and family for their input on the issue.
Once you know what changes you need to make, alongside the challenges you’ll face, you can start making a list. Write down the changes you will be implementing, breaking them down into small, manageable goals.
Now that you have identified what you need to do to make a change, the next step is action. That is, you need to follow through on the to-do list you created in the preparation stage.
As you progress through your self-care goals, don’t forget to reward yourself. If you take the time to congratulate your success, however small, it will motivate you to keep it up.
It is a good idea to seek emotional support during this stage too. While sticking to your self-care goals may be easy to start with, it does get more difficult as time progresses.
In the maintenance stage, it’s all about avoiding past behaviors and solidifying new behaviors. You’ll find it a lot easier to maintain your self-care routine if you eliminate any temptations.
Whenever you successfully stop yourself from relapsing, congratulate yourself. Celebrate your successes and you’ll find it much easier to carry on. It’s common to slip up when you’re trying to make positive changes. This leads us on to the last stage…
It’s common to relapse when you’re starting new habits. That’s OK! Everyone relapses at some point, but the important thing is not letting it send you off-course.
When you do relapse, you’ll likely feel guilty and a failure. You might also feel disappointed and frustrated with yourself. This is completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up as this can cause you to give up on your self-care habits. Instead, look at why you relapsed.
What was it that triggered the relapse? By identifying what made you slip-up, you can learn from it. That way, the next time you’ll be able to avoid what triggered you. It can be useful to reassess your techniques to see if you need to make any adjustments.
These are the general stages of change you need to be aware of. Eventually, your new self-care habits will become so ingrained in your routine that you miss the relapse stage. But there are some obstacles at times and you can read about those here.
Now that we’ve looked at what it takes to make changes in your self-care routine, we’ll examine the different areas in upcoming blog posts. There are different types of self-care you can focus on so you’ll want to understand each of them before putting together a self-care plan. Stay tuned for those…
All the best,