Self-control is an essential part of everyday life. It helps you make healthy, positive decisions, prevents unwise impulse caving and enables you to manage and regulate how you feel.
But this kind of willpower can be hard to build, even though it’s immeasurably good for your mind, body, and soul. So how can you go about it? Here are five ways to master self-control for better health and wellbeing.
1. Separate Yourself From Things That Break Down Your Willpower
Willpower breaks down over time, so your self-control can start strong and deteriorate as time goes on. To prevent this, you should disengage and distance yourself from things that tend to whittle down these aspects of you. Here are some ways to do this:
· Remove Things That Tempt You
Many people have a high-and-mighty sort of perception regarding resisting temptation as if you must be able to look temptation in the face and deny it to claim you have self-control truly. But reality indicates otherwise. Studies have found that human brains aren’t designed to resist sources of temptation repeatedly. Though some degree of training can be helpful, constantly “training” temptation resistance doesn’t have any positive effects on self-control. As such, the best option is to remove the source of temptation. If you tend to give in to certain hankerings, cravings, or desires, that’s because that’s how the human brain works. Remove them from your life, and you’ll have a much easier time.
If you have to be in the same space as things that break down your willpower, find ways to distract yourself. By shifting your attention to other endeavors and engaging your mind with different things, you’ll be less preoccupied with the subject of temptation or emotion. It’s also a good idea to find long-term “distractions” that are genuine, healthy interests or hobbies that can occupy you, allowing you to become less and less interested in the initial temptation over time.
· Seek Help From Others
You don’t have to try and avoid things that break you down alone. Having others in your life who can help to hold you accountable can be a useful way to keep you motivated. Sometimes, knowing others would be saddened or disappointed if you gave in to your temptations can be enough to propel you forward and motivate you. For example, working out with friends gives you the drive you need to get up and hit the gym with them daily, and going out to the movies with friends prevents you from heading to a bar.
2. Take Care Of Your Physical Health
People often overlook the mastery that physical health can have over mental health. As they say, a healthy body makes a healthy mind. Ensuring your physical wellbeing is in order can help your self-control and overall wellbeing as a result. You don’t need to be the fittest person in your neighborhood, either! Just focus on the following aspects:
Physical activity is fantastic for your body and brain, and its physical benefits are relatively obvious. On an emotional level, it’s also good to produce positive hormones, such as serotonin and endorphins. More importantly, exercise has proven to help self-control by promoting a more relaxed emotional and mental state. This allows for more precise, more rational thinking that creates stronger resilience in times of stress.
· Eat Enough
The world’s focus on thinness has made us forget how crucial eating is too general health. Going hungry is terrible for your mind and body and can make you more angry and irritable, decreasing your positive thinking and making it harder for you to control yourself. The many components of food are necessary to emotional regulation, and a lack of calories means you run too low on fuel to manage your impulses properly. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can eat more protein instead of carbs, but you should never deprive yourself of food required for functioning.
· Get Enough Good Sleep
Many people don’t get enough sleep, and those who do get sufficient hours may get inadequate quality rest that means they don’t feel well-rested. If you’re one of these people, you’re doing your self-control a disservice. The ability to remain consistent with sleep and achieve sufficient rest every night is crucial to your ability to manage emotions, frustration, and stress. A lack of sleep, on the other hand, can lead to a significant number of control issues, ranging from caving into food cravings to poor problem-solving or decision-making skills, according to studies.
3. Take Care Of Your Mental Health
A lack of positive thinking is often the chief cause for a loss of self-control. This is why mental health is so important. If your brain’s not in the right state, it won’t be able to help regulate your actions, after all. Here are some areas to focus on and some tips to try:
· Find Coping Mechanisms For Stress
Stress management is a skill that is built over time. For those who fail to build the skill, acting out and turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms is common. If you often find that your lack of self-control stems from an inability to manage stress, it’s a good idea to begin doing some self-reflection. Finding methods that allow you to handle your stress levels better will leave you with sufficient energy for positive self-control.
Meditation is a helpful tool for managing impulses because it has positive effects on feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and stress. It increases GABA levels in your brain, which helps to manage stress responses and regulate negative emotions. This means you’ll be put into a more relaxed state, preventing irrational or extreme emotional reactions to external and internal sources of negativity. The ability to focus on yourself, your breath, and the present can be a surprisingly helpful tool in mastering self-control.
· Start Putting Your Energy First
When you feel tired, it’s time to take a step back from commitments and find some relaxation. Prioritizing yourself can feel selfish when you’re not used to it, but it’s an integral part of your self-control and general wellbeing. No one else can know for sure how you’re doing, and at the end of the day, you only genuinely have yourself to rely on 100% of the time. So start putting yourself first and give yourself rest and self-care when you start getting tired. You’ll find that being well-rested gives you the necessary energy for self-control. The more tired you are, the more likely you are to cave into initial impulses.
They say that practice makes perfect, and that goes for self-control, too. While you can’t overdo it, you can certainly work on yourself to boost your wellbeing through willpower. Here are some ways to do so:
· Fake It Till You Make It
Self-control usually doesn’t come naturally. For control related to habit maintenance or activity restriction, it can be tough to feel like you handle the situation. But here’s a little secret: no one has a handle on it at first! Self-control often begins with you forcing yourself to do things that are difficult for you. Still, this faking method until it becomes a natural, ingrained, and genuine habit is a useful way to kickstart your self-control.
· Put Yourself In Self-Control Situations
If you’re really trying to build self-control, put yourself into situations where it’s necessary. For example, you may refrain from using social media without removing your phone from your possession, or you may go to a bakery filled with sweet treats and only order something healthy. However, do note that you shouldn’t do this constantly or if you are recovering from addiction. This kind of practice can become counterproductive if you do it so much that you wear your self-control thin!
Believe it or not, knowledge can be crucial in self-control. Think about areas where you struggle and delve into literature on the topic, whether via articles, books, videos, or documentaries. You can even learn from people who have been in your position. The point is that better understanding triggers where you lack self-control can give you better power over them, providing you with information, tools, and preparation for the challenges that may lie ahead. So don’t underestimate the power of research!
· Forgive Slip-Ups
Your self-control won’t always be perfect, and there will be times when you make mistakes and feel like you’re back at square one. This is normal, and it’s why you’re practicing. Reflect on the slip-ups, determine their cause, and develop a plan to avoid a repeat of this or better manage a similar situation. Then start again! Remember, progress isn’t linear, and making mistakes is part of both being human and learning to improve.
5. Set Goals
Goal-setting is often the best way to get your head in the game to work towards personal improvement. It also helps with achievement-based self-control, as you’ll be able to stay on task more if your goals are defined and available. Here are some tips for this!