Some time ago I was really suffering from loads of back and neck pain, and everyone kept telling me, “You need to start doing yoga.”
Honestly, in the back of my mind, I knew Yoga probably would work, but there was a big problem.
As typical human nature goes, I knew I should do it, but I couldn’t get myself to do it.
And it wasn’t until I really started going deep into the science of habits did I finally start piecing this together until it finally became a morning habit.
Here’s how you can do the same.
Using The Power of Linking To Turn It Into a Habit
The 30 Second Guide to How Habits Actually Work
First… here’s a quick primer on how habits work.
As it turns out, habits are created in a three step process:
The cue is whatever sets off the behavior and triggers it. For a smoker, they might be sitting at work around 3 pm when the boss comes over and drops a huge project in their lap. They start stressing out and need a break. They feel agitated and need to do something. That’s the cue.
So what does the smoker do? She gets up and goes for for a smoke break and takes a little walk / de-stress session outside. That’s the routine.
As a result, she feels relaxed and much more calm than before. That’s the reward.
Here’s another example many of you are probably familiar with: Compulsive texting / emailing.
The cue in this case is the phone sending us a notification. The routine is checking the notification. And the reward is feeling satisfied – like our ADD has been temporarily relieved :-).
Here’s How to Set Up a Habit Link For Stretching
Darren Hardy, the current publisher of success magazine, talked about how he was getting stiff from weight lifting for decades and his buddy Dr. Oz suggested he start stretching – by doing it when the morning coffee was brewing.
So every time Darren woke up in the morning and then put the pot of coffee on, he would do the 7 or 8 minute stretching routine.
One day as he was away for business, he woke up in a hotel, made his morning coffee… and found himself stretching without realizing how or why he did it.
That’s what we want when it comes to habits – at a certain point, they get automatic. This is awesome news for the good habits.
Here are two ways that I developed the habit of stretching every single day.
Method #1: The Motivational Mixing Trigger
Every single morning I listen to a motivational soundtrack.
I’m not sure about you… but I HATE the mornings, and I’m usually in a bad mood. Having said that, I’ve also realized that the mornings are the best time to get anything done.
If I want to cultivate a new habit and do it religiously, it won’t happen unless I do it in the morning.
So I started setting up a list of motivational songs that I found on youtube, and in particular, I repeated the same two over and over.
And then I got the idea – if these tracks woke me up – why don’t I just do a stretch with the first two songs?
It turned out to be a total jackpot.
In the first method here, I want you to set your phone to play some music – and you just stretch for two songs.
That’s it. It’s literally a five minute habit.
Or, like in my case, you can queue up some motivational tracks to help you start the day in a good mood. Once they’re over, your stretching is done.
After a while, this becomes a really enjoyable morning routine that easily gets linked together.
Method #2: The E.ggtimer Method
In the second method here, this is particularly something I recommend for people who swear they can’t do anything in the morning because they’re rushed.
When you’re at work, use e.ggtimer and break your work into productivity sessions – pomodoros (like every 30 minutes) or 45-60 minute breaks.
And every time you take a break, go stretch.
It’s literally that easy, but since it’s built into routine, and since it forces you to take a break it can become a very natural habit link throughout the day.
So you set e.ggtimer (I do 45 minute intervals), and once the loud beep goes off in your quiet office you use that as your trigger.
Go put your leg up on the desk, lay back over an exercise ball, do some downward dog or come up with something that works best for you.
Other Tiny Habit Friday Guides
Every Friday I build on this Tiny Habit Friday session and introducing new tiny habits. Here are the ones we’ve talked about before.
Previous #TinyHabitFriday Sessions
- Addicted to Soda? Use This One Simple Habit to Quit (For Life) (Read it here)
- How to Psychologically Trick Yourself Into Meditating by Using the “Linking” Method (Read it here)
- The Really, Ridiculously Simple Guide to Creating The Habit of Drinking More Water (Read it here)
- The 60 Second Habit That Can Turn You Into An Exerciser For Life (Used By CEOs and Olympians) (Read it here)
Sources: Columbia University for yogi pic: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/1600_1699/jahangir/yogi/yogi.html