Steps to Better Self Control

If we want to improve our habits, where should we begin? It’s a good idea to start by tackling the habits that most directly strengthen self-control, which we need if we’re going to keep any of our other good habits.

These five habits will protect us from getting so physically taxed or mentally frazzled that we can’t manage ourselves.

Get some sleep, a minimum of seven hours

For many of us, those last hours of the day are time to play or relax, but the fact is, we need sleep. Lack of sleep affects mood, memory, immune function—it even contributes to weight gain. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you struggle with getting to bed on time, try setting an alarm at night to help you get moving toward sleep.

Step it out

Exercise relieves anxiety, boosts energy and mood, improves memory, sharpens executive function and contributes to weight maintenance. It both energizes and calms us. You don’t need to train for a marathon or go to an hour-long spin class. The biggest health boost goes to those who are consistent about being less sedentary. You can find 10 minutes in your day, it’s a great start.

Nibble! Nibble! Nibble!

Because the brain needs energy to manage impulses, paradoxically, one of the best ways to avoid impulsive overeating (or any bad habit) is to eat enough and regularly. By doing so you will avoid binge eating and your energy level will remain at its peak.

Everything has a place, everything in its place.

Most of us get a real lift when we put things in their place, tackle nagging tasks, clear surfaces and get rid of junk. This surge of energy makes it easier to ask more of ourselves, to use our self-control and to stick to a challenging habit. Start with making your bed. Also, if you can do something in less than one minute, do it without delay.

Give yourself a break

Have a healthy treat.  “Treat” is a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because we want it. We don’t have to be “good” we don’t have to earn it or justify it. Giving ourselves “treats” may sound self-indulgent or frivolous, but it’s not. When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for and contented, which boosts our self-command. It’s a Secret of Adulthood: If we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves. Self-regard isn’t selfish.

What are some healthy treats you can indulge in? Browsing through art books, cookbooks or travel guides; taking selfies; napping; flipping through family albums; dressing up; learning a new art; dancing to some music that brings back happy memories.

These five areas build on each other. Start with one area, and go from there, as you make your habits better than before.

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