The Stages of Change and Wellness

The Stages of Change is a psychological concept explaining the process people go through in order to make a meaningful change in their lives that are applicable to wellness in a variety of ways. From quitting a drug to getting more exercise, the Stages of Change can be applied to help you gain better understanding and insight into the problem at hand.

The Stages of Change are as follows:

Precontemplation– the denial of a problem or shortcoming. 

Contemplation– the acknowledgment that the problem or shortcoming exists, but are not motivated to take action at this time.

Preparation– the acknowledgement that the problem or shortcoming exists and are taking steps to learn about how to solve your problem. This is also the time for making goals and preparing for action.

Action– this stage encompasses all the time, energy, and effort you have put into making the change. This is not an automatic process and will take much work on your part to achieve.

Maintenance– at this stage, you have given ample time for your new change to become a habit. It doesn’t take much thought at this point to achieve your goal consistently on a regular basis.

Relapse– not everyone makes it to this stage. This is both the end and the beginning of the Stages of Change in that relapse is possible and to overcome this stage, you must first go back to the beginning to see where you went wrong, replan for the new information, and take action again. Many people will relapse while making a life change several times before maintenance becomes habit. This is not a bad thing! It is through these setbacks that we learn where we need to strengthen our pillars. Never be ashamed to fail, be ashamed if you don’t get back up and try again.


Knowing which stage you are in at any given time is another good indicator for success. Reflect where you’re at. Then take account of what you need to be doing. Taking accountability for your goal and planning your actions will give you strength in your journey and insight into how to change your behaviours. The Stages of Change are only one aspect of changing a behaviour or routine. Making those changes habit is what prevents you from relapse.

Can you think of a situation in which you would use the Stages of Change? How could you apply this concept to different behaviours in your life? Check out our article on Creating a Wellness Routine for more information and guidance on how to use the Stages of Change in your wellness journey.