Make it a Habit

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

Author James Clear states that all habits proceed through four stages in the same order: cue, craving, response, and reward. The desire to solve a problem drives all behavior. This four step process is a feedback loop automated by our brain again and again after we have set the habit.

Here is an example of the four stages of habit behavior I educate and encourage with physical therapy patients and yoga students:

Problem Phase:

Cue: You feel onset of a familiar pain or joint stiffness.

Craving: You want to reduce or rid the pain before it gets worse.

Solution Phase:

Response: You perform prescribed gentle exercise targeting the painful or stiff area.

Reward: You satisfy your craving to reduce the pain and stiffness. Prescribed exercise becomes associated with onset of a familiar chronic pain or stiffness.

I encourage you to think of this feedback loop in terms of other perceived “good” or “bad” habits you have and identify the cue, craving, response, and reward. If I’ve piqued your interest about dissecting your habits, I highly recommend the book Atomic Habits. It’s easy to digest and then implement systems that encourage healthy habit systems.

Example of habits Katie has adopted recently that have improved mind + body health on a daily basis:

  1. When sleeping have your iPhone or any electronic device (except Kindle) far enough away so you can’t reach for it.

    This habit has hugely benefited the quality of restful sleep I get. 

  2. When sitting in a chair first bring your bottom to the very back of the seat and then sit down.

    Aligns your spine in a neutral position to take stress and strain off of the discs of the low back.  

  3. Read a short passage from an inspiring book, newspaper, or magazine article before heading out the door to start the day.

    This practice grounds me in the morning and helps me start the day with a positive and energized mindset. 

  4. Have a bouquet of fresh flowers in my home all the time.

    Bringing flowers and plants into my home has brought extra life and color with it :)