Can’t find time to take care of yourself? Try “Habits Stacking”.
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We live in a world where it seems like everyone does the most. They do their jobs, they keep their homes clean, and they see their loved ones while taking the time to take care of themselves. Seeing others “master” balanced lives can seem daunting, especially when you’re struggling to complete even two tasks on your to-do list.
Of course sometimes do nothing is productive, and we all know what we see on social media doesn’t always reflect reality. But if you’re struggling to save time for yourself, you might just need to strategize.
This is where ‘habit stacking’ comes in, a term coined by author SJ Scott in his 2014 book on the subject.
Habit stacking might seem like another kitschy self-improvement hack, but it might just be the mental trick that helps you pursue your quests for the long haul. The strategy is to list the habits you already have – like walking the dog or driving to work – that are already easy and routine enough for you, and pair them with new methods of self-care.
Ready to try it out for yourself? Here’s how to make sure your stack of habits holds up:
Start by choosing a little new habit
This can include anything you hope to improve. It should be a self-care technique that makes you feel good, but not necessarily something that you always have time to do.
The key here is to start as granular as possible. Say you want to get moving, but just writing “exercise” on your to-do list seems like a lofty goal. Instead, add a workout move you’re trying to master at the end of a habit you already do every day.
Diane Boden, host of the “Minimalist Moms” podcast and author of “Minimalist Moms: Living & Parenting With Simplicity,” does this every morning by adding push-ups after brushing her teeth.
“If I am already practicing one behavior, why not attach another to it?” Connectivity makes all the difference in maintaining new habits that you would like to develop, ”she said, noting that eventually your new habit will become second nature. “Can you get to a point where the habits you want to cultivate become reflexive?” “
Write a list of daily habits you already do, then stack them together in a way that makes sense
Mentally follow your usual routine and write down the automatic behaviors you engage in each day, such as Boden brushing your teeth. Other options might include getting out of bed, making coffee, changing your work clothes, or going to bed.
Listing them on paper will help you make the long list of possibilities and find the area of your day that works best for you. For example, Allison Chawla, a psychotherapist in New York City, recommended sitting down to dinner with a moment of gratitude.
Other potential combinations could be something like meditating for a minute while brewing your coffee, doing some yoga poses immediately after taking off your work clothes, or keeping a journal for five minutes when you go to bed.
Boden prefers to stack habits into categories, like combining two health and fitness habits. For example, you can drink a glass of water before and after your daily walk, thereby improving your health habits in several ways.
Build these combinations slowly for more success
The end of the game here is that your brain automatically associates one habit with another, so it doesn’t happen overnight.
And don’t try to do too much at once. Suppose you have several self-care habits that you want to try, such as journaling and meditating. What you should not doing is stringing all of these habits together or trying all of the combinations in one day – hence the “stacking”. Focus on keeping a daily journal before moving on to this and meditation.
Try not to get discouraged if it takes time. “It’s a lifestyle change, so people often don’t see the results they want because they’re productive in one aspect, but they lose that productivity in another way,” said Andre Pinesett. , doctor and student coach in productivity and performance.
Also keep in mind that multitasking, which research shows can be ineffective and counterproductive, does not interfere with habits and is not useful, Pinesett added. Instead of trying to do these habits at the same time (can you brush your teeth while do a push-up?), use one as a signal to start the next one.
Finally, make acknowledging your progress its own stacking habit
It’s essential to incorporate validation as your own habit as you succeed in reaching a more ambitious goal of self-care. Take the time to recognize the work you’ve done, whether it’s journaling before bed or doing push-ups after brushing your teeth. YesYou can do this by writing it down, which often helps reinforce positive emotions.
Keep going and you’ll find it’s easier to prioritize yourself than you might think.
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