Most of us know about this mysterious thing called ‘willpower’ and associate it with our greatest strength in resisting urges and making a commitment. But what exactly IS willpower and what can we do to make the most of it?
What is Willpower?
Willpower is our very own force that aids our ability to make good choices and stick to plans. It comes from the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex which plays a significant part in directing attention, decision making, developing and pursuing goals and inhibiting counterproductive impulses.
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Here are five things you may not know about your willpower!
1. Willpower is Like a Muscle
Just like you exercise your muscles to become stronger and perform with more stamina, the same goes for willpower. Willpower is a form of mental energy that gets fatigued just like an overworked muscle, so it’s important to train this to build up strength and improve function.
2. Good Hydration and Nutrition is Important
There’s a solid connection between a healthy response from our willpower and great nutrition and hydration. To be effective in following through or resisting temptation, the prefrontal cortex in our brain needs fuel to be successful in feeding this area where our willpower resides.
Having a diet that is balanced and includes lots of whole foods, plants, low GI carbs and healthy proteins has shown to improve brain function, and with any great approach to nutrition comes with the importance of sufficient hydration. So get sipping!
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3. Mindset is Key
When you feel bad or have low energy, your self control is impaired and not firing at its optimum. You may have you noticed how much harder it is to stick to something after a tough day, and how your ability to ward off unhelpful desires is lessened.
Keeping your decision making for times where you’re at your best will allow room for a better outcome, while your mental focus reflects your true desires.
4. Willpower can Lessen Around Others
It is true that energy vampires can suck the life out of our willpower and it’s worth taking note of the surroundings that you feel most vulnerable in. Much in the same way that our own feelings are linked to how effective we are at tapping into willpower, other people’s energy can directly impact on our supply.
Getting ‘comfortable’ in a new relationship or situation can often mean leaving willpower by the wayside. Pay attention to how other people’s actions or beliefs may contribute to your overall decision-making process.
5. It’s Limited in Supply
This magical source we call willpower is finite and gets exhausted the same way in which our bodies do over the course of the day.
While we may not be at the same levels of strength after challenging our willpower for a certain length of time, we can improve its stamina and work on replenishing its stores.
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Ways to Strengthen Your Willpower
- More sleep
- Good nutrition and hydration
- Keep a diary (tracking progress and monitor behavior)
- Work on your posture
- Use the opposite hand – this challenges the urge to go with the dominant one to build resilience
- Delay gratification
- Alcohol in moderation
- Stress less
- Plan ahead
- Exercise your imagination
- Be yourself!