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“Habit stacking” could be just the thing you need to swap out bad habits for good

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Aiden Wynn
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Do you ever find yourself doing the same things every day, rather than trying the new things you really want to do? Here’s how “habit stacking” could change that. 

I think it’s safe to say that we’re all spending more time indoors than usual at the moment. Not only has the changing of the clocks brought about shorter days and colder weather, England’s new tier system has also re-imposed stricter restrictions on where we can go, what we can do, and who we can see.

For many, having these extra hours to ourselves might seem like the perfect opportunity to be more productive, maybe by learning a new skill or doing more home workouts. But that isn’t the easiest thing to do, even at the best of times.

You see, our habits very often get in the way of our ability to do new things and stick to them. Maybe we’ll find ourselves scrolling endlessly through Twitter and Instagram rather than going for a run, or eating a go-to dinner instead of cooking something new. Whatever the situation, all too often we do these things without actually making a decision to do so. 

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This has to do with the fact that, according to Psychology Today, “our habits are processed in different parts of our brains than conscious thought”. So, by doing certain things over and over again, we consign them to our unconscious brain, and they become reflexive.

It doesn’t necessarily mean to say that these habits are all that bad – we all need our downtime, especially at the end of a long day. But when our habitual behaviours start to get in the way of things we really do want to do, that’s when they become a problem.

Never fear, though! There is a way to fit in the new things you want to do, without having to kick your relaxation to the curb. 

Habit stacking: “our habits are processed in different parts of our brains than conscious thought".

“Habit stacking” 

One of the best things you can do to ensure you stick to new things is to make them a habit, too. By doing so, you can turn them into a natural part of your evening or weekend. However, this is easier said than done, and so you’ll need a technique that will help you build your new habits into your days.

“Habit stacking” is a technique that will help you to “connect your new behaviour to something you already do”, according to Psychology Today. By doing so, you forge a strong mental association with the thing that you want to do, and mark a specific point in your day in which to do it. You’re also not trying to find additional time in your day, which there is only a limited amount of.

So, when you have your breakfast in the morning, try adding in a couple of minute’s meditation when you sit down with it. Or, when you’re changing out of your work get-up at the end of the day, you could put your running gear straight on so that you’re ready to head out. And, if you wanted to learn a new language or listen to an interesting podcast, you could try doing so as soon as you sit down on the sofa when you would usually watch Netflix.

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Aiden Wynn

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