How to Boost Your Self-Control RIGHT NOW; Can't Stick to a Diet? Are You Unable to Break Your Bad Habits? Don't Give Up, You Can Retrain Your Brain and Body to Fight Back When You Get the Urge to Smoke, Lose Your Temper or Dive Head-First into the Biscuit Tin

The Mirror (London, England), January 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

How to Boost Your Self-Control RIGHT NOW; Can't Stick to a Diet? Are You Unable to Break Your Bad Habits? Don't Give Up, You Can Retrain Your Brain and Body to Fight Back When You Get the Urge to Smoke, Lose Your Temper or Dive Head-First into the Biscuit Tin


STRENGTHEN YOUR MENTAL MUSCLE

Experts say the way to break bad habits is to take baby steps to build yourself up a 'psychic six-pack' to boost your overall self-control.

Kathleen Vohs, a professor of consumer behavior at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, says: "Self-control is a limited resource, like a muscle that gets depleted if overworked."

But self-control can also be built up. Try these exercises to strengthen your 'mental muscle'.

(1) Interrupt your habits

If you're used to having a glass of wine at home after work, try skipping it for a few days. This creates an interruption in your habits that gives your self-control a boost and makes you more aware of what you're doing. It'll mean you can then tackle bigger challenges.

(2) Take small steps

Focus on eliminating unnecessary words when you speak, or try brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand. It sounds strange but you'll have to concentrate to do it. "By taking small steps, you end with a sense of discipline that is more meaningful," Kathleen says.

(3) Evaluate your life

Research shows people can reach their goals better if they stop and think about what they truly value in life for example being healthy. Try this when you feel the urge to succumb to a habit. Kathleen says: "It's like hitting the reset button".

(4) Take the long view

If you find yourself tempted to indulge, tell yourself your selfcontrol capacity over the long-run will be better if you resist. So be strong now and you'll find it easier to be strong in the future.

(5) Know yourself

If self-control isn't your strong point, don't force yourself to take on a big commitment, build your self-control muscle first.

DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

It seems every time you give in or your willpower lets you dow actually making it more like happen again!

Ben says: "If your mind constantly focused on what you must NOT do, this makes you do it more - a phenomenon that's called 'behavioural rebound'. To bring about behaviour change the brain needs new experiences".

(6) Change your routine

Try to vary your everyday rou in simple ways, take a differen to work, swap the TV for the in a different seat. These tasks break down habits and make you more likely to be able to change your behaviour.

Ben says: "This is to help prepare you to get used to having new experiences and being more open. People are 99% habits, and habits are incredibly strong - much stronger than willpower".

(7) Distract yourself

Make yourself a set of 'habit breaker' cards to use at times when your resolve is being tested. The idea is that you simply do what it says on the card, putting something else in the way of the craving/ feeling, so you can get past it.

These can be simple things that take a few minutes, such as counting backwards in threes from 97. When you get to the end you'll be so distracted you'll probably have forgotten the craving.

(8) Break the chain

Now change your habits and tines so you reduce the mber of 'triggers' all round you. If you always have a biscuit with your cup of tea, then tea is your biscuit trigger.

Ben says: "Because the brain is such a powerful 'habit machine' it reacts to triggers without you nowing it. So you reach r the crisps with the k, the cigarette with the etc, without realising it". has to be broken!

(9) Start to do things differently

The next step involves getting out of your comfort zone. …

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