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How Can Habit Stacking Create Healthier Behaviors?

People with mental health disorders may struggle to implement parts of their treatment plan. This isn’t usually due to a lack of trying. Mental illness can make motivation difficult. On top of this, habits are generally just hard to build. If you’re working to change your patterns and build healthy behaviors, habit stacking can help you.

What Is Habit Stacking?

When you want to start a new habit, it can take around ten weeks of consistent implementation for the habit to stick. Consistency is key. You may feel frustrated at first. It’s a normal feeling to experience when developing new habits. Habit stacking might help you get past the roadblock.

This technique involves pairing new behaviors with already existing habits. Synaptic pruning reinforces rewarding, helpful, and commonly used neural pathways. By engaging a new and old behavior pathway, you’re strengthening both. The new behavior is much more likely to stick because of that. Over time, the old behavior will trigger the new one and vice versa.

How to Habit Stack

Now that you understand what habit stacking is, you can put it to practical use in your mental health journey. First, you should decide on the new habit you want to form. Common self-care and mental health habits include:

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Exercise for [x] minutes
  • Meditate for [x] minutes
  • Write two to five pages in a journal
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Name emotions
  • List three things you’re grateful for
  • Do your daily planning

Secondly, you should make your habit specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). Start small whenever possible. For example, don’t go for a full hour of exercise. Instead, begin with ten minutes. After you establish the healthy behavior, you can build up the intensity.

Lastly, you should decide on a habit to work from. This needs to be something you do every day that feels natural and easy. Ideally, you should pick a behavior you’ve done for a long time.

You may benefit from habit stacking if you find it challenging to change your patterns. During habit stacking, you’ll pair a well-established routine with your desired new behavior. Over time, your new behavior will become easier. You don’t have to go through this process on your own, however. At The Guest House, you can work with a therapist to create new habits. Our team can help hold you accountable during treatment. Moreover, you can spend time with others working to reach the same goals as you. For help, call us at (855) 483-7800.