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First STEPS first: Walking around the block after watching Netflix... (or building habits)

Bruce Mackey Park in Riverdale

A good friend asked me last summer if the pandemic had consequences in my life. I told him not really. I was one of the lucky ones whose job was already working at the computer and walking. Then I asked him: What about you? And he said that he had become addicted to his phone...

That's when I realized that it happened to me too!

Until we got the vaccine, I developed the habit of consulting my phone for the latest stats about the pandemic. Unaware that I followed that with sessions "down the rabbit hole"!

And now, I hear most my friends confirm the same thing! Even those who don't binge-watch TV, when you scratch the surface, they admit to spending too much time on social media (including YouTube).

Hello, my name is Nathalie and I'm an (Internet) addict.

Guilt-free habit stacking to the rescue

While I was down the said rabbit hole this week, I came upon Andrew Huberman's podcast The Science of Making & Breaking Habits | Huberman Lab Podcast #53 and caught the segment where he mentioned the "habit stacking" tip. Which, I later learned, is very well explained in James Clear book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

Apparently, our brain perceives a chain of habits as a single habit. So we might as well stack a few of them together. I did not wait until I had read the book or listened to the full podcast before taking the first step.

What did I chose to try it this month? Humour me.

I NEED to take breaks. I love to watch movies or series. I would normally do something while watching, to feel efficient (and less guilty), like cutting veggies or cleaning up my desktop. But this is not relaxing. It is numbing.

So I made a pact with myself to leave my phone in other rooms during the day, allow myself television breaks, and follow the viewing session with a glass of water and a walk around the block.

Which I just did. It was cold, I dressed warmly, and was rewarded by the sun and the poetic sight on tree shadows over the sinuous Bruce Mackey Park.

I think I'm on to something here. ;-)

NOTE to Toronto curious walkers

Bruce Mackey Park (in Riverside neighbourhood) runs north-west of Queen St E & De Grassi St, where you'll find Bonjour Brioche.

French bakery Bonjour Brioche near Bruce Mackey Park

Nathalie Prézeau is the local author of walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. (currently SOLD OUT!) She's currently working on her next book.

Visit to subscribe to Nathalie's coming newsletter and follow the author on social media to find out what latest urban gems she's found for you and to keep posted on her next guide.


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