🧱 Enhance Your Life with Habit Stacking


Happy Sunday!

This week for Sunday Morning Rounds, I want you to think about your habits🤔. Since it's still early into 2024, is there a new habit you included in your New Year's resolutions?🎆

Reading more📙? Getting more exercise💪🏻? Reconnecting with an old friend🫂?

As noble as all of these habits are, they can be difficult to follow through on. In fact, according to this survey conducted by Forbes Health in October 2023, only 20% of those that responded said they keep themselves accountable when it comes to sticking to their goals🤦.

If that's not enough, many sources estimate that it takes about 66 days before a new habit becomes rooted in our brain📆.

So what can we do to help make these habits stick?

Habit stacking is a simple yet powerful method for picking up a new habit💡.

Habit stacking is a technique where we pair the new habit (or desired change) with an already existing habit. The reason this can be so effective is because our brain already has a pathway for the existing habit and can essentially perform it on autopilot✈️. Creating new connections in the brain to enact a habit can be difficult, but piggybacking on connections that are already in place is an easy workaround🐷!

For example, about two years ago I decided that I wanted to find more gratitude in my days (residency was beating me down a little bit😅). At first the process was inconsistent and sloppy...I didn't want to use a physical product like a gratitude journal, and I would frequently forget the mental reminders I tried to set for myself😤.

Then I decided to stack my new gratitude habit with the existing habit of brushing my teeth🪥. Each night as I was brushing, a little notification would pop into my brain to reflect on what I was grateful for today🔔. Over time I needed that notification less and less, until the point where I didn't need it at all. Creating that habit has definitely had a positive effect on my mental health, and I'm happy to say I've continued with that same ritual to this day🌈.

So what are some other examples of habit stacking? What might this look like for a medical student or resident? Check out some examples I came up with below⬇️

  • Doing 10 UWorld questions while drinking your morning cup of coffee☕
  • Listening to a medical podcast while eating lunch🥪
  • Stretching for 5 minutes after writing 1 patient note📝
  • Setting your mission critical for the day during AM pre-rounding🫡
  • Walking around campus with a friend after finishing a block of UWorld🌍

The possibilities are endless!

Of course not every habit has to be stacked with UWorld, but then again I know my audience😂. So the next time you have a habit you want to add to your life, find a current habit to stack it with and make the change!🔗

🗺️Something I discovered: One of the residents was playing this Lord of the Rings soundtrack at work the other day and it was so pleasant. I'm literally listening to it as I write this, and will definitely be adding it to my list of YouTube Videos for Productivity & Focus!

🚑High Yield Emergency Medicine: For all of my EM residents, the annual In-Training Exam (ITE) is coming up in just a few weeks. Be sure to check out my Emergency Medicine Board Exam High Yield Facts video series for some awesome prep content!

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