How Do I Get Better Self-Control

What's Covered

Having a great self-control is one way for individuals to achieve success in life.[1] However, self-control does not just focus on the word “control” but it also includes proper discipline such as eliminating the bad habits and building better one. Improving self-control requires a lot of efforts including physical and mental ones.

What Does Having a Better Self-Control Means?

Having a better self-control means you are able to subdue your impulses and emotions. When you have a better self-control, you are able to avoid temptations for you to achieve your goals in life. Additionally, having a better self-control makes you a healthier and happier person.[2]

Better Self-Control Effects on Health

Proper Weight

People with better self-control are less likely to become overweight.[3] This happens because these people are able to have a higher impulse control. Additionally, they are able to resist any temptation especially if they know that the food is not good for them.

Decreased Risk of Addiction

People with better self-control do not struggle with drug and alcohol use as these people will not feel that they are helpless.[4] Additionally, people with better self-control are at a lower risk of having criminal behaviors.[5]

Greater Career

People with better self-control are at a higher risk of having greater career and educational opportunities.[6] Eventually, greater income and job satisfaction may also be acquired.

When Should I Get a Better Self-Control?

When you feel the following, it is time for you to do something about your self-control:

Too Overwhelmed

When you are too overwhelmed to do something pleasurable, and you know that doing it is not good for you, it is about time to practice having better self-control.

Disgusted with Good Things

When you feel like disgusted with doing the things that are good for you, it is also about time for you to practice better self-control.

Mental Ways on How to Get Better Self-Control

Meditate

Meditation is not just a way for you to improve your muscles but it will also improve the performance of your brain. It actually helps you keep your self-control.[7] Train your brain to relax by meditating. For sure, you will be able to control your gut impulses and your self-control will improve.

There are different types of meditation practice such as mindfulness and spiritual and on these types comes different exercises. Personally, I think that knowing the meditation practice that suits you best is important if you want to get a better self-control. Consider reading this intro book about meditation and you will get an idea about the practice that is best for you.

ProsCons
Conversational formatAffordableNo index and references
Practicing Mindfulness
Reading this book will help you how to become a more focused individual. Surely, you will learn how to become more aware. Additionally, your mental health will improve together with your emotional and physical health.

Know Yourself

Knowing yourself means managing your emotions. When you get to manage your emotions, you get to manage your impulses properly. Knowing yourself also means developing self-awareness. Of course, managing emotions is never easy that is why I want to recommend this book to you. It talks about our emotions as a gift and how we can nurture and take care of them without harming ourselves and others.

ProsCons
AffordableComplete guide on how to deal with emotionsFocuses only on 10 emotions
Managing Your Emotions
Reading this book will help you on how to deal with your feelings and on how to accept your emotions. Surely, after reading it, you will be able to feel that you are whole again.

Forgive Yourself

When you fail, learn to forgive yourself. Also, when you forgive yourself, you have to learn how to move on because when you beat yourself and worry too much, you will not be able to achieve anything, thus, your energy will just go to waste.

Personally, I truly agree that forgiving ourselves is one of the best ways to improve our self-control. Recently, I got addicted with an online game which requires a payment and I lost a lot of times. I finally realized that my energy went to waste and even my time and money! After playing my last lost, I went to the bathroom and told myself that I’m forgiven and I must not do the same thing again. Eventually, I felt better and the guilt inside me was gone!

Avoid Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue ruins the result of our choices. You may not decide at all or you may become impulsive when you decide. Avoiding decision fatigue means putting aspect in your life on default mode. One way to avoid this is by taking these supplements.

ProsCons
Improves decision-making abilitiesSupports cognitive functionsCalms the moodNon-habit formingSome people experience nausea
NuLevel Research
Taking these supplements will improve your memory and focus. Additionally, these supplements will help you control your cravings and will keep you calm. Surely, you will not just be able to make proper decisions but you will also be able to increase your mood.

Remind Yourself of the Consequences

When you want to improve your self-control, it is important for you to recognize the consequences of your actions. When you decide on something and fail, your self-esteem, education, career, and most especially finances will be at risk. So, remind yourself about these consequences so that you can stay motivated.

Going back to the bad habit I have said (online gaming with payment) above, I realized that my finances are being at risk. So, I made a list of the possible consequences if I will still continue playing it.

Activities to Do to Get Better Self-Control

Exercise Regularly

Exercising regularly increases the flow of the blood and oxygen levels in your pre-frontal cortex. When this happens, better self-control is the outcome. Exercising does not just give you a better self-control but it also improves self-discipline especially on finances, health, and emotions.[8] Additionally, exercising during break time is also helpful. So, no matter how busy you are, try to spare some minutes for yourself to exercise.

Before the pandemic, my husband and I only did jogging but while researching for the best exercise which we can do at home, we both came into this simple ball exercise. Personally, I find it fun to do especially when me and my husband do it together!

ProsCons
Comes with a pumpComes with a pin and pin removerComes with bandsDurableNon-slipKind of pricey but I know it is worth it!
Active Balance Exercise Ball
Using this during your daily exercise will not just improve your balance but will also make your life healthier! Surely, you will be able to stay fit and you will have the confidence because you know that you are giving a chance for yourself to have a better self-control.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation affects your cognitive functions.[9] When you are sleep-deprived, the glucose in your prefrontal cortex drains and when this happens, your self-control is affected. So, if you want a better self-control, always get enough sleep.

Whenever I cannot get enough sleep, I use this product because I am afraid of those sleeping pills. Interestingly, this product helped me not just to have enough sleep but also helped me to have a quality one.

ProsCons
Simple and deliciousEasy to drinkKind of pricey
Harney & Sons Hemp Moringa Deep Sleep
Drinking this tea will make you calm and relaxed. Surely, after drinking it, you will be able to sleep well and your mind will be at peace.

Eat Well

Eating is a way for your brain to be nourished. Of course, your brain will only be nourished and replenished when you eat health foods. So, if you want to have a better self-control, it is a must for you to consume proper, healthy meals. However, there may be days when your schedule contradicts your meal time. For this reason, I would like to introduce this vegetable soup which you can bring wherever you go!

ProsCons
On-the-go foodAffordableDelicious and nutritiousMicrowaveableIt is hard to open
Sale
Campbell's Well Yes!
Having this product will make eating more convenient for you especially on your busy days. Surely, you will feel better and you will never feel the hunger because you have something to consume wherever you go.

Plan Ahead

Planning allows you to get better results. So, when you need to do something in the future, plan ahead as this will help you as well avoid temptation.

When I was a newlywed and still struggling financially, I used to write down my plans on my finances (salary) and the business and future that I want. That ways way back 2018 and now, I still look at that planner and get to realized that I was able to fulfill my some of my dreams ahead of time! The planner that I have used is like a workbook and a reflection planner. There are some activities as well about meditation.

ProsCons
Comes with weekly quotes and reflectionsDurableUndatedSimple and elegant designKind of pricey
Daily Gratitude Journal
Using this journal will keep you motivated and will remind you of your goals. Surely, you will be more organized and focused and you will feel a sense of accomplishment after writing your thoughts.

Play Games

There are classic games that can help you improve self-control. When I and my husband wants to improve our self-control or when we want to distract ourselves when we are being tempted, we used to play the Jenga toys of our son. I personally think that playing Jenga does not just kill time but also improves confidence and self-control.

ProsCons
Simple to useSolid and durableAffordableDoes not come with a bag
Jenga Classic Game
Using this product allows you to improve your self-control and confidence. Surely, you will be able to practice how to control your movements and at the same time, you will be able to exercise your brain and increase your hand-eye coordination.

Use Your “Wrong” Hand

Using your wrong hand means using your non-dominant hand. Use it when you do small tasks such as opening the door and stirring your drink. Doing this does not just give you a better self-control but it also makes you less frustrated and aggressive.

Role-Play

If practicing self-control is kind of hard for you, try practicing it with some of your friends or relatives. Doing this will help you express your emotions and thoughts without getting the feeling of shame and negative consequences.

Other Ways on How to Get Better Self-Control

Remove Temptation

To resist temptation means to remove it. If you want to improve your self-control, do not practice self-discipline for a certain temptation. Instead, eliminate it. If you get to do this, you will be able to create an effortless self-control. Instead of struggling how to discipline yourself, better remove the temptation that gives you that struggle. Surely, doing this will help you focus on your priorities and decisions.

Talking about the bad hobby that I had (online gaming with payment), back then, I told myself that I must have a discipline whenever I play it. However, whenever I try to play again, is still cannot get that discipline that I want. After losing my last game, I came to realize that I have already spent so much money and I got nothing in return. So, I said to myself, I will no longer discipline myself. Instead, I will remove that hobby from my life.

Measure Your Progress

If you are able to manage your progress, you will be able to focus on your goals. Monitor your self-control changes as this will help you change into a better person. Personally, when I am able to do something productive or not, I mark my calendar and make a positive note about it and doing this makes me become more aware. I always bring this calendar with me whenever I go to work and it gives me a sense of accomplishment whenever I get to re-read the positive ones.

ProsCons
CompactEco-friendlyDurableAffordableNo plastic cover so when it gets wet, it can be damaged easily
Monthly Pocket Calendar
Having this product will keep you inspired and motivated. Surely, when you get to go back on your improvements, you will have a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Prioritize Things

Make a daily, weekly, and monthly to-do-list. Doing this will make you become more productive and it will make you feel that you are in control. Additionally, this will give you less stress and it will give you less wasted time.

Drink Lemonade

Glucose is connected with self-control and it acts as a fuel for the brain.[10] Saying the word “fuel”, this glucose also drains and when you have low level of glucose, your self-control is poor. So, to replenish the lost glucose, consider drinking lemonade in order for you to maintain your self-control. Personally, I recommend this on-the-go lemonade drink because I find them convenient to have.

ProsCons
Easy to makeClassic flavorDissolves easilyKind of pricey
Crystal Light Lemonade
Having this product with you will surely keep you cool whenever you feel tempted. Surely, you will not just be able to have a better brain function but your self-control will remain on the average.

What Can You Get After Having a Better Self-Control?

Self-Preservation

After having a better self-control, you will be able to focus on what you need than on what you want. You will be able to enrich your life and you will be able to have a healthier life.[11]

Self-Assertion

After having a better self-control, you will be able to appreciate your value and you will be more comfortable as you live.[12] You will get to be firm with your decisions and at the same time, you will be able to cheer other people up.

Self-Fulfillment

After having a better self-control, you will be able to persevere more.[13] This means that you will more likely be able to become interested in learning new skills which might give you a sense of fulfillment.

Getting Better Self-Control in the Moment

Recognize Impulsive Thoughts

Recognizing impulsive thoughts will help you build a better self-control. Try making a list of your thoughts which might trigger your impulsiveness. By being able to recognize these impulsive thoughts, you will be able to equip yourself with proper actions.

Place Time Restrictions

Placing time restrictions means thinking about doing a certain act for a day. For example, if you want to buy something, write down the list of the things you want to buy and after a day, revisit the list and choose the most important ones. Doing this will help you become a more rational person.

Belly Breathing

Sitting down will not help you avoid the urge. Instead, distract yourself by doing this simple activity. As you inhale, think of the temptation and imagine it disappearing as you exhale. Do this for 5 minutes and you will surely be able to control yourself. This activity is perfect for individuals who are trying to quit smoking and bad eating habits.

Find a Healthy Distraction

Personally, I distract myself by folding origami. They consume my time and I really find them as a great distraction whenever I cannot control myself from doing something that is not good for me. Additionally, origami does not consume so much space that is why I can bring them wherever I go!

ProsCons
SmallEasy to foldNo-tearingHigh quality paperDoes not come with origami guide
Origami Paper
Having this origami paper will help you be distracted from whatever temptation around you. Aside from the possibility of increase in creativity and imagination, surely, using it will never let you lose you cool and self-control.

Getting a Better, Long-Term Self-Control

Make a List

This one does not mean making a “to-do-list” but it means listing down the habits or behaviors which you want to control. When you do this, consider the suggestions of other people around you because those they say are the bad things they see from you. Take them positively and be committed in changing them.

Choose the Main Behavior

From the list you have made, choose one which you want to put more attention with. However, you have to take it slowly and easy as changing habits take time.

Educate Yourself

Educate yourself about how you can build a better self-control. Additionally, you can educate yourself as well about the behaviors you want to change. For example, if you are a binge-eater, read some books about it.

I personally want to recommend this book about self-control. It does not just teach you about self-control itself but it also includes topics about how to deal with some behaviors.

ProsCons
AffordableMotivationalSupported by studiesThe book is wordy which makes it hard for other people to understand
The Marshmallow Test
Reading this book will not just teach you about self-control but it will also guide you about how to become successful in life. Surely, after reading it, you will have better social and cognitive function and you will have a healthier lifestyle. Indeed, reading this will make you understand your worth.

Motivate Yourself

You can motivate yourself by using a motivation journal. Doing this will keep you reminded of the outcomes that you want to achieve.

ProsCons
Easy to useDurableKind of pricey
The Five Minute Journal
Having this motivation journal with you will surely improve your happiness. You will be a more grateful person and you r motivation will never be lost!

Develop New Hobbies

Developing new hobbies is a wonderful distraction when practicing self-control. Personally, I recommend painting and coloring hobbies. I kind of feel relaxed every time I am onto them and they just simply give me peace. If you want to go over with coloring books, I want to recommend

ProsCons
Comes with motivational quotes and sayingAffordableFun to useDoes not come with coloring pencils
Adult Coloring Book
Using this product will give you good vibes. When you have good vibes, you will keep your cool and your self-control will stay on average.

Final Thoughts

Self-control is very much related to temptation. Sadly, the big T’s are everywhere. From all the tips above, here are some useful ones that I have used in my personal life: Active Balance Exercise Ball, Harney & Sons Hemp Moringa Deep Sleep, Campbell’s Well Yes!, Crystal Light Lemonade, and Adult Coloring Book.

FAQs

What are the characteristics of a person with better self-control?

A person with better self-control has a self-contained behavior. He or she is composed, cool, and has a sense of self-mastery.

Can self-control be learned?

Self-control can be learned and improved. There are many different ways and factors that you can do in order for you to improve your self-control. When you get to improve it, you will surely be able to live happier and healthier.

At what age self-control is developed?

Self-control starts to develop between 3 to 4 years old. However, it takes years for a person to master this self-control and it is like a lesson that should be learned every day.


[1] Baumeister, Roy F., and Julie Juola Exline. “Self-control, morality, and human strength.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 19.1 (2000): 29-42.

[2] Stavrova, Olga, Tila Pronk, and Michail D. Kokkoris. “Finding meaning in self-control: The effect of self-control on the perception of meaning in life.” Self and Identity 19.2 (2020): 201-218.

[3] Stutzer, Alois. “Limited self-control, obesity and the loss of happiness.” (2007).

[4] O’Donoghue, Ted, and Matthew Rabin. “Addiction and self-control.” Addiction: Entries and exits 169206 (1999).

[5] Morris, Robert G., Jurg Gerber, and Scott Menard. “Social bonds, self-control, and adult criminality: A nationally representative assessment of Hirschi’s revised self-control theory.” Criminal Justice and Behavior 38.6 (2011): 584-599.

[6] Thoresen, Carl E., and Craig K. Ewart. “Behavioral self-control and career development.” The Counseling Psychologist 6.3 (1976): 29-43.

[7] Friese, Malte, Claude Messner, and Yves Schaffner. “Mindfulness meditation counteracts self-control depletion.” Consciousness and cognition 21.2 (2012): 1016-1022.

[8] Muraven, Mark, Roy F. Baumeister, and Dianne M. Tice. “Longitudinal improvement of self-regulation through practice: Building self-control strength through repeated exercise.” The Journal of social psychology 139.4 (1999): 446-457.

[9] Pilcher, June J., et al. “Interactions between sleep habits and self-control.” Frontiers in human neuroscience 9 (2015): 284.

[10] Gailliot, Matthew T., and Roy F. Baumeister. “The physiology of willpower: Linking blood glucose to self-control.” Personality and social psychology review 11.4 (2007): 303-327.

[11] Robinson, Michael D., Brandon J. Schmeichel, and Michael Inzlicht. “A cognitive control perspective of self‐control strength and its depletion.” Social and Personality Psychology Compass 4.3 (2010): 189-200.

[12] Arneklev, Bruce J., et al. “Low self-control and imprudent behavior.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 9.3 (1993): 225-247.

[13] Elchardus, Mark. “Self-control as social control: The emergence of symbolic society.” Poetics 37.2 (2009): 146-161.

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Author

Tiffany Biondi

Tiffany Biondi

Mother of 4 kids, Tiffany is a certified childcarer and during her free time, she write posts in thebabychoice to share her hands on experience and knowledge.

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