A Beginner’s guide to Mastering Self-Control

A woman struggling with Self-control while looking at a doughnut
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Do you often find yourself binge-watching relentlessly? Or skipping a day and 6 other days of your gym? Lack of self-control, that temptation of one more episode or one more day is so irresistible. It happens to the best of us. There is no shame in slipping up once or twice, we’re human and it is natural, rather essential for us to take a break. It is critical though to decide to make a change for the better when we realize that a lack of self control is causing a negative effect on our life and well-being. 

Self-control is the ability to not only avoid but overcome temptations in order to reach a certain goal. It also increases your patience and teaches us the lessons of delayed gratification. The need for instant reward doesn’t allow us to see the benefits of a later reward. Self-control is a key aspect of Emotional Intelligence which enables you to lead a healthy and positive life. The benefits of Self-control include:

  • Reach long-term goals
  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Stay fit
  • Enhance interpersonal relationships
  • Develop Resilience

Here are some ways by which you can practice and improve your self-control:

1. Avoid temptations:

If you know a particular thing tempts you and weakens your self control, anticipate it beforehand and avoid being around it as much as possible. For example, if you know that you will be tempted to see your phone while working, put it away before you start working. Similarly, if you are tempted to watch Netflix instead of sleeping, grab a book instead and don’t switch on your TV, phone or laptop.

Woman trying to avoid the temptation of eating a doughnut and having Self-control
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

2. Become self-aware:

Get your priorities straight. That only happens when you know what you truly want and why you want it. In terms of self control, reflect about the areas in which you want to practice self control. If it helps, make a list of the behaviours or habits you want to control like sleeping too much, binge-watching, eating too much etc. Afterwards, reflect on how controlling these behaviours can be beneficial. This way it becomes clear for you to make a clear course of action towards controlling these behaviours.

3. Get some good sleep:

Yes, you heard it right. The part of the brain that is responsible for self control is the Prefrontal Cortex. A study by the University of Washington has stated that inadequate sleep is responsible for lowering the glucose levels in the Prefrontal Cortex, thereby impairing our self control abilities. Thus, make sure to fix your sleep cycle and become better at Self-control!

Woman sleeping to increase Self-control
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

4. Exercise:

Research in the Science Daily suggests that regular exercising increases blood and Oxygen flow in the Prefrontal Cortex thereby increasing our Self-control capabilities. So get your sports shoes on and sweat it off!

A woman and a child exercising to increase self control
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

5. Increase your Glucose intake:

In an interview with American Psychological Association, Baumeister talks about the role of Glucose in Self-control. He stated that low glucose can impair our performance on tasks requiring self-control. Thus , give your body the daily/regular dose of glucose that it needs to maintain self-control.

A child eating to increase Self-control
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Pretty amazing, how science plays such a huge role in social emotional learning, particularly self-control, isn’t it? Now that we have unraveled the secrets to master self-control, we are looking forward to hearing from you! Let us know your thoughts/ strategies in the comments below!

Resources:

Business Trends and Insights. 2020. 8 Easy Ways To Increase Your Self-Control. [online] Available at: https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/8-easy-ways-to-increase-your-self-control/ [Accessed 17 August 2020].
Psychology Today. 2020. How Self-Control Can Help You Live A Healthier Life. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201607/how-self-control-can-help-you-live-healthier-life [Accessed 17 August 2020].

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