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7 Surprising Science-Based Hacks To Build Your Willpower

7 Surprising Science-Based Hacks To Build Your Willpower

Tempted by that second doughnut? Struggling to resist checking your phone? Shopping impulsively on Amazon? Slacking off by reading Lifehack instead of doing work? What you need is more willpower! Recent research shows that strengthening willpower is the real secret to the kind of self-control that can help you resist temptations and achieve your goals. The great news is that scientists say strengthening your willpower is not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 research-based hacks to strengthen your willpower!

1. Smile :-)

Smile

    Smiling and other mood-lifting activities help improve willpower. In a recent study, scientists first drained the willpower of participants through having them resist temptation. Then, for one group, they took steps to lift people’s moods, such as giving them unexpected gifts or showing them a funny video. For another group, they just let them rest. Compared to people who just rested for a brief period, those whose moods were improved did significantly better in resisting temptation later! So next time you need to resist temptation, improve your mood! Smile or laugh, watch a funny video or two.

    2. Clench Your Fist

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    Fist

      Clench your fists or partake in another type of activity where you exercise self-control. Studies say that exercising self-control in any physical domain causes you to become more disciplined in other facets of life. So do whatever works for you to exercise self-control when you are trying to fight temptations: clench your fist, squeeze your eyes shut, or you can even hold in your pee, just like UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

      3. Meditate

      FV_International _Insights_eja1

        Meditation is great for a lot of things – reducing stress, increasing focus, managing emotions. Now research suggests it even helps us build willpower! With all these benefits, can you afford not to meditate? An easy way to get started is to spend 10 minutes a day sitting in a calm position and focusing on your breath.

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        4. Reminders

        SONY DSC

          Our immediate desires to give in to temptations make it really challenging to resist them. Our emotional desires seem like a huge elephant and our rational self is like a small elephant rider by comparison. However, one way to steer the elephant is to set in physical reminders in advance to remind ourselves of what our rational self wanted to do. So put a note on your fridge that says “only one doughnut” or set an alarm clock to buzz when you want to stop playing video games.

          5. Eat

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          Eat

            Did you know that your willpower is powered by food? No wonder’s it’s so hard to diet! When we have low levels of glucose, our willpower goes down the drain. The best cure is a meal rich in protein, which produces a constant and steady glucose level and enables the most optimal willpower.

            6. Self-Forgiveness

            Forgive

              How is self-forgiveness connected to willpower? Well, what the science shows is that feelings of regret deplete your willpower. This is why those who eat a little too much ice cream and feel regret are then much more likely to just let themselves go and eat the whole pint or even gallon! Instead, when you give in to temptation, be compassionate toward yourself and forgive yourself. That way, you’ll have more willpower going forward!

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              7. Commitment

              Commitment 2

                The most important thing to strengthen your willpower is commitment to doing so! Only by committing to improving your willpower every day will you be able to take the steps described above. To do so, evaluate your situation and why you want to strengthen your willpower, make a clear decision to work on improving this area, and set a long-term goal for your willpower improvement to have the kind of intentional life that you want.

                Then break down this goal into specific and concrete steps that you will take based on the strategies described above. Research shows this is the best path for you to build your willpower! So what are the specific and concrete steps that you will take?

                Photo Credit: Smile!, Fist of Fury!, Gleb Tsipursky meditating in the park, 225/365 Reminders, pai eating, Forgive, Commitment

                Featured photo credit: Temptation/Lowes via flickr.com

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                Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

                President and Co-Founder at Intentional Insights; Disaster Avoidance Consultant

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                Last Updated on December 9, 2019

                5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

                5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

                Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

                Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

                Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

                1. Get Rationally Optimistic

                Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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                This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

                In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

                The result: no more mental stress.

                2. Unplug

                Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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                How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

                It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

                Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

                3. Easy on the Caffeine

                Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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                Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

                4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

                That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

                How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

                • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
                • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
                • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

                While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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                5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

                This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

                The result: mental stress will be gone!

                So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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                Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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