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Freeport, ME, June 17, 2021

Making Time Outside a Habit: Tapping into our existing routines—outside

One of the best ways to create new habits is to “stack” them. Just like it sounds, this means putting a new habit on top of an old one. You might be surprised to find out that most of your day is in fact habitual. From where you put your toothbrush to how you tie your shoes—we are deeply routine animals. Because we know time outside is so good for us, it’s a worthwhile exercise to investigate which of our habits we can take outside.

Think about when you pull into your driveway or garage. It’s likely you grab your keys, your bags, lock the car, and head straight for the house. A habit you could stack onto this pattern of behavior is to pause, look up at the sky, and take a big breath before you return inside. This is small, and it might even feel insignificant, but it is a stacked habit that can help you decompress from carpool duty or grocery shopping with a tiny dose of awe.

Patterns are most obvious when you’re looking for them. What other routines (that might feel like daily choices) mark your day? If you’re like most Americans, the first thing you look at when you wake up is a screen. A way to stack this habit is to simply change where you charge your phone, from your bedside to a windowsill. When you go to pick up your phone, look outside and survey the weather. What can you notice?

Creating new habits doesn’t mean on overhaul of your life. Next time you move through your day, take an inventory of your habits. Once you get a sense for your patterns, think about the ways you can integrate or add the outside in a simple way!

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