The Herb Stop Blog
New Year, New Me: Habit Stacking Your Way to A Healthier Life
Most of us have mixed reactions to New Year's resolutions.
For some of us, it’s a fresh start to an exciting new year.
Others dread keeping up with their goals after past attempts were less than successful. Some people skip the tradition entirely.
Regardless of what group you fall into, goal-setting — during the new year or anytime — is a great way to incorporate new healthy and happiness-boosting habits into your routine.
How to Set Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions
Setting sustainable goals is the first and most crucial step to feeling like a “new you.”
According to a Business Insider interview with psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, there are three primary reasons that people don’t complete their resolutions:
- The resolution isn’t specific enough: For example, a generic goal of exercising more, losing weight, or eating better. These are all great goals, but they aren’t specific and don’t have an easy way to track your progress. A specific goal would be “I want to track my steps and work my way up to 10,000 steps per day by April.” This goal has both a deadline and an easy way to track your progress.
- Your resolution is framed negatively: For example, goals like “stop wasting money” or “don’t eat junk food.” These goals can feed into negative self-talk, so look for alternative ways of stating your intention, like “Make healthy swaps for my afternoon snack” or “Save an extra $100 per month.”
- Your goal isn’t your own: Many of us set goals based on what society or others expect of us. But this isn’t enough for us to stick with it in the long term. Evaluate your goals and make sure they are truly for you.
Next, let’s jump into how to set yourself up for success with habit-stacking.
Popularized by best-selling author James Clear, habit stacking is a method of building new habits by pairing them with a current habit you already do every day.
For example, if you’re trying to be more consistent with taking vitamins, you can pair taking them with your breakfast or brushing your teeth.
This method is easier than adding a habit during your day with no real rhyme or reason. Instead, stack it on top of behavior you already do on autopilot, such as eating meals, walking your dog, washing your face, etc.
Here are a few examples:
- After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will sit and reflect on three things I’m grateful for for one minute.
- After I get out of bed, I will immediately change into workout clothes.
- After I brush my teeth, I will apply take my herbs and supplements.
We recommend starting with one to two micro-goals at a time. Remember, the goal is to form sustainable habits you can keep up with. While making a handful of New Year’s resolutions is great, implementing many changes simultaneously is a recipe for burnout.
Here are some of our favorite micro-goals that can help you feel like a whole new person with just a little effort!
Almost everybody would benefit from a little less stress in their lives. Here’s a couple of ideas to inspire your goals:
- Make a self-care date once a week or incorporate a small self-care habit daily to give yourself a much-needed, quiet moment to yourself. This could look like using a serum to promote balanced, radiant skin or soaking in a hot bath with luxurious Epsom salts.
- Add a mindfulness practice to your routine. Journaling, meditating, deep breathing, or reflecting on everything you’re grateful for can chip away at your stress.
- Improve your sleep. Sleep is critical for your health and stress levels. We have an entire guide on some of the most helpful herbal remedies for anxiety and insomnia here.
- Take a break from social media and TV. While these are perfectly fine in moderation, look for swaps that make you truly happy. Examples include swapping out one episode of TV each night for time spent reading, catching up with your spouse, coloring, baking, or anything else that makes your soul sing.
- Use essential oils for stress relief. Whether you prefer calming scents like lavender or uplifting scents like bergamot, these smells can give you a quick boost when you’re feeling frazzled.
Looking to reduce stress in the home? Try these micro-habits:
- Immediately put items back in their place. Live by the “two-minute rule,” which states if something takes less than two minutes to put away or tackle, such as placing a couple of plates in the dishwasher or opening a bill, immediately tackle it so the tasks don’t pile up and become a big project.
- Live by the “one in, one out” rule. Simplify the clutter in your home by donating one item each time you bring a new one into your home. For example, if you buy a new shirt, go through your closet and declutter one.
- Struggling with clutter? Declutter one small section of your home each week. Tackle the junk drawer one week, then your shoes the following week. This approach is much more manageable than tackling your entire closet or kitchen and can help you keep up with the habit.
Need inspiration to get excited about improving your health and well-being? Here are some manageable micro-goals that can have a BIG impact:
- Meal plan. We know this doesn’t sound fun, but trust us when we say it can take as little as ten to fifteen minutes a week, especially if you make it a habit. Not only does this reduce weeknight stress because you know what’s for dinner, but you can shop for, plan, and try out new delicious recipes with intention. Need inspiration? Check out our article on cooking with herbs and spices — the key to making healthy food taste AMAZING.
- Stay hydrated. Keeping up with our water intake can be tricky. Try these hydrating herbal teas to help you stay hydrated and refreshed year-round.
- Habit stack exercise into your life. Add in a short daily walk after dinner or breakfast. This is a fantastic way to get your body moving and can be incredibly enjoyable when you walk with your dog, friend, favorite music, or an audiobook.
For more inspiration, check out our previous blog on healthy micro-goals.
We are so excited to welcome in the new year and hope these ideas inspire you when you set your goals.
Herbalist Natalie and Herbalist Leilah