Creating new habits involves a bit of psychology, doesn’t it? Habit stacking is a practice that allows you to take advantage of the way your brain works, instead of fighting with yourself to bootstrap or willpower your way to a new habit.
Oxford University researchers discovered in a 2007 study that as we age, our brains reduce the synapses for behavior we don’t use and strengthens those we do.1 This is called “synaptic pruning.” Practicing piano is an example of the brain building connections that make doing something easier. If you don’t practice, the brain doesn’t learn to play. Synaptic pruning happens with our habits. Your brain builds a strong network of neurons that support behaviors. The more you do something, the stronger and more efficient the connection becomes.2
Habit stacking is a fairly new idea that is gaining momentum. Wall Street Journal bestselling author S.J. Scott introduced the idea of habit stacking (also “habit chaining”) to the world in 2014 with his book, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less, and it’s been expanded on by others in books such as Atomic Habits by James Clear and Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.
The basic idea is to build a new habit by attaching it to one you’ve already established. James Clear created this habit stacking formula:
For example, “After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.” Or, “After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.”
You can apply this simple formula to forming healthy habits and add ‘while’ I [CURRENT HABIT] to the equation:
“After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.”
“Before I leave for work, I will fill my water bottle.”
“While I sauna, I will drink 16 ounces of water.”
When you already love your sauna time, it provides the foundational good habit you can add another to. The benefits of stacking healthy habits in your sauna mean you can take advantage of what your sauna session does for your body and exponentially increase the healthy benefits in a variety of ways.
For example, studies have shown that saunas help increase flexibility3, so it’s the perfect place to pair stretching or yoga. “While I am in my sauna, I will stretch for 15 minutes.”
We also know that infrared sauna helps your mind and body relax and destress, so it’s a great time to add meditation practices. “While I am in my sauna, I will listen to a guided meditation app.”
We asked our Sunlighten Facebook Community to share their successes and favorite habit stacks and they provided so many great ideas. Here are some of the most popular things our sauna community is doing:
1. Fascia Work – Myofascial tissue is connective tissue that helps your body move and is associated with pain and cellulite. Fascia work is a type of massage that loosens fascia and helps the body in many ways and our customers say they love using a FasciaBlaster during or after. Fascia work is better when the body is warmed up, so using a sauna and doing deep work in the fascia layer goes so perfectly together and is part of the reason many customers have purchased a Sunlighten. Sauna users say they’ve seen improvements in cellulite and dimpling.
2. Meditate – Ongoing research continues to support meditation for health. Some of the favorite meditation apps used by our community include Headspace because it’s so easy to follow and has a fun, cheerful aesthetic; Balance because it creates personalized experiences; Insight Timer because it’s comprehensive and flexible; Neurocycle is a new app by our partner Dr. Caroline Leaf that teaches you how to detox your brain by managing your thoughts in 5 steps.
3. Dry Brush – Dry brushing unclogs pores by exfoliating and helps detoxify your skin by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph drainage. Members said with routine use they notice smoother skin texture without dryness, and noticed more “dirt” when they showered, making them feel the detoxification was working.
4. Skin Care – Some members incorporated derma rolling for skin care and using rose hip essential oil helped smooth skin.
5. Exercising – Yoga, crunches, planks, and stretching can all be added during or after a sauna session to stack the benefits of sweating and heat.