By Mark Briant

Forming good habits, that make us feel good and are healthy sometimes can feel like an uphill battle. Intentions are there, but sometimes the actions and repetition needed to actually make it a habit just don’t come easily. But when we do get into those good habits not only do we often perform better, we also tend to feel better, happier, more content, better mental health.

That’s where positive habit stacking comes in. It’s an idea James Clear talks about in ‘Atomic Habits’. The premise being you piggyback existing routines you have. Things you do every day. Those routines have strong neural connections in the brain that aren’t disappearing any time soon. We simply tag something new on before or after that habit. The brain barely resists as it’s no extra bother for it and soon that new action becomes a habit, something we do regularly. 

For me I know reading every morning gets my day off to a good start, it calms & levels me. But sometimes I forget or things get in the way. But ensuring you have your go to self-care practices regularly is so important. So I decided to try some positive habit stacking. Here’s how I went about it:

  1. What habit do you want to implement? Be specific - Reading more in the mornings, a minimum of 10 pages.
  2. Pick a habit you do every day - Morning cup of coffee for me.
  3. Is it best for me to do my new habit before or after the current habit? - After my morning coffee.

It’s important to be specific in your new habits

  • ’10 pages’
  • ‘1 minute of meditation’
  • ’5 pull ups’

And attach them to specific cues such as

  • ‘As soon as I finish my morning coffee, I will read 10 pages of my book’
  • ‘After I have my morning shower, I will do 1 minute of meditation’
  • ‘Every time I walk through a door way I will do 5 pull ups’.

I'm about 3 week in and am loving it. Sometimes the simplest things can be the best for us. What are some habits you know are good for your mental health?

Interested in learning more? Atomic Habits is a great read, and Sir John Kirwan talks about positive habits on the “Don’t Tell Me the Score” podcast.

Author MobFit

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