Exercise Your Willpower Before You Need It


All of us have moments when we need to draw on our willpower to get through a challenge. How we do, is dependent on how well we’ve prepared for temptation, and how much willpower we have in reserve. Try these five tips to increase your willpower anytime:

Take a nap 

Your willpower diminishes when your overall energy drops, so it’s important that you get enough sleep each night if you want to remain ready for any challenges that arise during the day. If you’re really feeling the midday slump, trade another cup of coffee for a nap.

Allow for (a little) indulgence

Even if your goal is to lose weight or cut sugar out of your diet, science reveals a connection between depleted willpower and low blood sugar. One of the best ways to fix both problems is to east something sweet. Just remember, keep portion sizes reasonable and think of sweet treats that are healthy, like a juicy apple or some sweet green grapes.

Exercise your mental muscle

Just like all the muscles in your body, your willpower needs to be worked and challenged in order to grow stronger. Over time persistent willpower turns into automatic habits, so eventually you won’t have to deploy your willpower nearly as often. Push yourself a little bit each day with willpower challenges: finish a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, try not laugh while watching a funny movie, or meditate while stuck in traffic. These practices will exercise your willpower in the moment but improve your reserve capacity in the long-term. 

Give it a rest

Everybody eventually reaches a point where they run out of willpower, and that’s okay. Instead of trying to force your willpower to go to work, change the environment around you. Turn off the television and relocate to the bedroom to get some rest, put sweets in the very back of the pantry, and organize your workout gear for the next day and place it right by the front door. These signal that there isn’t a decision to make and willpower is not needed.

Be kind to yourself

No one is perfect, and no one has perfect willpower. We all give into temptation sometimes and backslide on our goals, no matter how important they are to us. Rather than feeling guilty or ashamed or beating yourself up when you slip up, give yourself some inner encouragement and remember all the times you’ve done things right. Optimism is much more helpful in building healthy habits and stronger willpower than giving yourself a scolding.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Johan Bichel Lindegaard

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.