NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Change is hard. Even when it’s something we know is good for us, it’s not easy to create new healthy habits that stick. In this week’s episode of FUELED, Molly and Brooke dive into Habit Stacking, a simple approach that layers in behaviors for lasting change.
Think of Habit Stacking as the art of combining your current habits with new habits that you want to start. Essentially, you’re adding a new behavior by “stacking it” on top of an existing habit.
The key is to tie the new behavior into something you already do with ease. This existing habit or action becomes a cue that triggers us to remember to follow through with the new habit.
Make sure the cue is very specific, and actionable. Examples include:
- Gratitude: While my morning coffee is brewing, I’ll identify three things I’m grateful for.
- Stress Management: While I’m sitting at a red light, I’ll take 5 deep breaths (or practice my 4-7-8 breathing technique).
- Movement: As soon as I walk in the door, I’ll put on my workout clothes (for some, this is even more effective as, ‘before I leave work for the day I’ll put on my workout clothes’).
- Alcohol Free For 40: When I walk in the door in the evening and after I check the mail, I’ll make a zero proof cocktail (instead of pouring a glass of wine).
Habit Stacking: Getting Started
- Identify New Habits | List out new habits that you’d like to incorporate. Note the frequency (eg once daily, multiple times daily, every other day, etc).
- List Your Current Habits | At least 10 actions that you already do regularly, along with frequency
- Look for Opportunities to Merge | Once you have these two lists, look for ways to layer you new habits with your existing lifestyle.
For more on Habit Stacking, check out Atomic Habits by James Clear, along with this interview with Arianna Huffington of Thrive Global.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.