Habit Stacking: The Key To Sticking To It

lifestyle wellness Aug 23, 2023

You may or may not be familiar with the concept of "habit stacking", but I want to dive a bit deeper into this concept that might just change your life.

I often recommend this strategy to clients who are struggling to commit to new habits and see progress in their healthy routines.

Want to learn more? Let's dive in!

What is habit stacking?

Habit stacking is an approach that increases the likelihood that you'll stick with a habit by "stacking" a new behavior on top of an old one. This process can be repeated to attach numerous habits together, with each action acting as the cue for the next.

This can help you better remember to complete the new habit you want to adopt with less mental effort. How? Let's get a little science-y...

How does it work?

Our brains build a strong network of neurons to support our current behaviors, and the more we do something, the stronger and more efficient this connection becomes - this phenomenon is called “synaptic pruning”.

Amazingly enough, we actually have the power to impact and manipulate our brains to favor new, productive networks rather than old, harmful ones. This comes with intentionally CHOOSING and carrying out actions that support the longterm healthy habits we desire.

A way to make this EASIER is to “stack” a new habit onto an already existing one - i.e. taking advantage of the current strong neural pathways in our brain in order to build new ones. This seems simple, but over time you begin to build the neural network that makes carrying out the desired habit easier and easier every day.

Where do I get started?

First, think of the habits and routines you complete every single day - brushing your teeth, brewing a pot of coffee, driving to work, etc.

Now, get specific about the new habits you want to engrain into your life. Think about how you can pair the two and "stack" the new habit onto the old.

Some examples could include:

  • Stretching while your coffee brews.

  • Thinking of 5 gratitudes while brushing your teeth.

  • Immediately putting on workout clothes when you change out of your pajamas.

  • Soaking in some direct sunlight while sipping your morning coffee.

  • Taking 5 deep breaths before you sit down to eat.

  • Standing or using a walking desk while answering emails.

  • Listening to a podcast or calling a loved one while walking or driving to/from work.

I hope this helps you better understand how to "hack your brain" with simple tweaks that will have a lasting impact over time!

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