How Habit Stacking Can Lead to Successful Mindfulness Practices by Dinah Kleyman

I set my toothbrush down and turned off the light. Then, as I began to prepare for bed, I witnessed my hand reach for my headphones, and I found myself pushing play on my favorite mindfulness app. I settled in, taking deep breaths, as the soothing voice on the other end started guiding me through relaxing exercises.

Within seconds, my heartbeat slowed, and a sense of peace washed over me. I smiled as I realized what had just occurred and drifted off into an incredibly restful sleep. Just a year ago, my evenings followed a different pattern. After completing my nightly routine, I would (mindlessly) scroll through my phone, my head filled with a constant stream of thoughts and clutter. But recognizing its negative impact on my well-being, I decided to make a change and implement habit stacking.

So, what is habit stacking?

It’s a way to seamlessly sneak in new habits by anchoring a new behavior onto an existing practice. By linking the desired behavior to a familiar routine, we leverage our current patterns as triggers for new ones. 

Getting started with habit stacking:

You can quickly begin by identifying any habits you already perform consistently. These habits could be things as small as making your bed, showering, or opening up your computer to start a workday. Nevertheless, these daily actions act as reliable cues for introducing mindfulness practices.

Next, select a few mindfulness practices that align with your goals and preferences.

These practices could be anything from journaling, affirmations, deep breathing, mindful walking, body scans, etc. Take the time here to pick the ones with the most significant impact.

Now it’s time to design your personalized habit stack.

First, choose an existing habit and a mindfulness practice you’d like to add based on what you just identified.

Then, decide if you want the new mindfulness practice to go before or after your current habit. For instance, if you have a morning coffee routine, you could practice a five-minute meditation right after you set the coffee to brew. Then, eventually, making coffee becomes a trigger for a non-negotiable moment of silence.

Lastly, check in with yourself to see if you’d like to remove any “bad” habits.

Sometimes bad habits can accidentally get stacked in because they get attached to daily actions. Once you identify what to remove, you can add a new activity before the bad habit.

Ex: [current habit] brush teeth → [new habit] a promise to work on breathing exercises before you scroll social media → [bad habit removal] getting so captivated by breathing exercises that you forget to scroll.

Moments of mindfulness can be life-changing.

Practicing mindfulness (keyword: practice) allows you to observe and accept your thoughts and emotions without attachment or judgment, enabling you to get into a proper flow state, release negative energy and stress – and feel like your best self.

Start slow, stay consistent – and remember, small changes can add up to massive results.

So, what’s one thing that you can start habit-stacking today?

www.wildandstrongwellness.com

HBliss

Vanessa Finnigan is the founder, editor and publisher of Holistic Bliss.
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