Maintaining a new behavior is the most challenging part of any behavior change.
|Characteristics of Maintenance||Helpful Strategies|
- If you are trying to maintain a new behavior, look for ways to avoid temptation. Don’t place yourself in a high-risk situation. Use positive self-talk, “What can I learn from this?”
- Reward yourself when you are able to successfully avoid a relapse.
- Plan Ahead. Use a weekly/daily planner.
- If you do lapse, don’t be too hard on yourself or give up. Instead, remind yourself that it was just a minor setback. Relapses are common and are a part of the process of making a lifelong change.
- Never let a few days, or even weeks, of falling back into bad habits discourage you from fighting to reestablish the good habits you want. Always remember: none of us was born with any habits at all. They were all learned, and can all, therefore, be unlearned. The question is: how badly do you really want to change?
Prepare a Behavior-Changing Agenda:
- Use a daily planner
- Write down your goals, list specific strategies, set specific targets
A LAPSE does not necessarily mean a RELAPSE. Focus on the successful part of the plan (“You did it for six days; what made that work?”). This shifts the focus from failure, promotes problem solving and offers encouragement. The goal here is to re-engage in the change process. Set realistic goals to prevent discouragement, and acknowledge all the positive steps you have taken toward behavior change.
Resources: http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/ss/behaviorchange_7.htm; http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1409.html