Willpower is what keeps you making healthy choices. You need it to eat nutritious foods instead of junk. You need it to stick to a healthy exercise regimen. You need it to put down the cigarette or the cocktail.
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However, knowing what willpower is doesn’t mean it’s always easy to hold on to. Willpower is something you have to work out, just like your muscles. That means there will be times when it’s easy and times when it’s more difficult.
The trick is to prepare yourself and make sure you have a plan so that your willpower isn’t something you find yourself losing when you need it most. There are several techniques you can employ to make the best choices for you so that you can be healthy and guilt-free.
Try one of these things, or go ahead and add them all to your routine. You’ll love what each and every one of them can do for you.
You Need To Take A Break Often
As with any situation, you have to take a willpower break now and then to give yourself a rest. Overdoing it on willpower will leave you stressed and deprived, which will ultimately lead to failure and the guilt that goes with it. Research shows that too much willpower will backfire on you because you’ll get tired and your brain will be overworked.
By giving yourself a chance to let down your guard, you make it easier to hold onto your willpower when it’s important. Experts say to take a regular break so that you can give your brain and body a chance to revitalize for the next time you need to exercise willpower.
Whatever you’re trying to hold back on, give yourself permission to take a break, and you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to have willpower the rest of the time.
Limit Your Exposure
It’s hard to hold onto your willpower when you are constantly bombarded with the things you have trouble resisting. If that means junk food, keep it out of the house so you aren’t tempted to eat it.
Pack your lunch for work so you won’t hit the drive-thru. Say no thank you to treats so you don’t have to feel like you have to eat something that isn’t good for you. If you have trouble saying no to alcohol, happy hour is something you should skip.
If you need willpower to exercise, keep your workout gear close by so that you don’t fall prey to the “out of sight, out of mind” way of thinking. By staying away from the things that tempt you the most, you will have far more success holding on to your willpower and resisting that which you don’t want as part of your life.
You’ve Got To Have A Plan
A plan is a pretty powerful thing. When you have a plan for when your willpower is being tested, it’s one surefire way to make sure you hold on to it when you need it. Maybe you’re going to a party, but don’t want to drink or eat junk food.
Decide before you go what you’ll do when you’re offered something you’re trying to avoid. You could always bring your own food and drinks along so that it’s easier to resist the things you don’t need.
When it comes to willpower for a workout, simply writing down your plan in a day planner makes it far more likely that you’ll stick with the program. Planning will take a bit of time and effort, but you’ll be so glad you put in the work.
Use Your Imagination
Sometimes your imagination is all you need to grasp that willpower and not let go. Research says that imagining something a little bit uncomfortable will help focus you so that you are better able to exert willpower.
You might think that the image of something calming would work better, but studies show that doing so can actually relax you to the point that you lose your inhibitions and toss your willpower right out the window.
The tense feeling spurs you to make the right choice and hold on to that willpower because it feels good to be able to gain control and do the things you set out to do.
Distraction Is Very Helpful Too
Imagination is great, but sometimes a distraction is what it takes to hold on to your willpower. When your co-worker is passing around another plate of cupcakes, distract yourself with a project you’ve been putting off.
When your kids are enjoying hot dogs for dinner, go call your best friend while they eat. Whatever it is, the distraction is enough to take the focus off the thing that’s testing your willpower and allowing you to resist the bad choice you’re trying not to make.
Other good distractions include a walk around the block, playing with your pet or exercising. Reading a book, playing a game on your phone or dancing with your kids are other options.
Stress Relief Is A Must
Stress is one of the biggest things that can derail your willpower. Of course, stress is a part of life and you won’t ever be able to eliminate it altogether, but you can take steps to gain some relief. When you are stressed, it’s much easier to reach for unhealthy snacks or skip the gym in favor of wine and Netflix.
Practicing stress relief can quell that urge and help you make the healthy choices you’ve set out to make. A warm bath, aromatherapy, yoga or a walk with friends can help you reframe your state of mind and avoid the guilt you’d feel otherwise for making poor decisions.
Take Things One Step At A Time
Instead of making a far-reaching willpower goal, it’s a good idea to break things up into more manageable chunks. Being overwhelmed by your choices can make them harder to stick with, so take things slow.
Perhaps you forgo the candy in an effort to lose five pounds at a time instead of the entire 50 you want to drop overall. Maybe you cut out one soda per day to help you get on track with your sugar habit.
Whatever choices you make, making small successes along the way creates a stronger willpower and helps you get where you’re headed in a way that doesn’t totally take over your life and make you feel bad about yourself.
Stay True To Yourself
Just like any healthy choice you try to make, there will be people who wonder why and who try to sabotage you, whether it’s on purpose or not. This will make it harder to stick with your goals, but you have to stay true to who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.
Let the comments slide off your back and calmly explain your situation and what you’re doing for yourself. You may have to say it several times, and you may find that some people aren’t that supportive. However, in the end staying true to yourself is something you can feel good about.