3 Powerful Ways to Control Your Impulses

We live in a world of immediate results. From smartphones to laptops, endless information and entertainment are at our fingertips. All we need to do is type a couple of words and click a button. So it’s hard when something comes along that requires time, especially dieting. We get tunnel vision when we see that slice of cake or that piece of pie, and all we can think about is how good it will taste.

I don’t know whether it’s because your brain is saying “Carpe diem!” or you’ve lost faith in the old adage that good things come to those that wait, but immediately gratifying your desires can have serious negative effects on your health and wellness.

We’ve come to expect impulsivity as something that can be justified in a modern world of immediate satisfaction, and this can keep us from doing all that. We should reap the rewards in the long run. In other words, we opt for the smaller-sooner reward as opposed to the larger-later reward, even if that is our optimal choice.

3 Powerful Ways to Control Your Impulses

This article provides several ways to control your impulses and help you begin the process of forward-thinking as you start to change your daily habits.

1. Pre-Experiencing

One way to fight back against the temptation for instant gratification is to do what some medical studies have called “pre-experiencing.” When facing a sugary food, often we think about other sugary foods that we have eaten and how delicious they were. This makes it very difficult to control your impulses..

However, pre-experiencing can help you picture your future just as vividly by thinking about your weight-loss goals and future health. So, start to think about enjoyable future scenarios where you’ve lost the twenty or thirty pounds you would like to.

Obviously, things won’t change overnight, because willpower is not something that we can turn on and off whenever we want to. The way you can compensate for moments when your willpower fails is to begin now to develop healthy eating habits. By so doing you will eventually automate the decision-making process in your brain, thus reducing how often you have to rely on willpower, which is a limited resource.

2. Keep Yourself Busy

Lifestyle changes involving diets and exercise require both mental and physical effort. So, keep yourself busy. You’d be surprised at the benefits that will result from making tasks for yourself and realizing them. Staying busy helps people combat negativity, as well as feelings of anxiety and depression.

This is because when they feel like their goals and plans are in progress, they often don’t have time to dwell on negative emotions, which can be a good thing in moderation. One of the reasons why people relapse a week or two into a new diet is because they become discouraged if they slip up. Be patient with yourself, and make a list of wholesome and healthy activities (e.g., walking, running, and other dopamine-producing activities) that you can do instead of sitting in front of the television.

As you make adjustments to your diet by taking in more nutritious foods, you will find that you have greater energy to continue to be productive.

3. Quality Over Quantity

Pick one day out of the week to treat yourself to something delicious. If you are going to give in to an impulse, at least do so with some pizazz. For example, instead of sticking your head in the freezer and eating spoonful after spoonful from a carton of ice cream, pick one fancy treat that you get to savor thoughtfully. Doing so will help you feel like you are in control of your diet, instead of succumbing to instant gratification every day of the week, where short-term rewards merely create an illusion of control.

Be okay with having one “cheat day” a week that you work towards, and if you are struggling to find the motivation to work out or eat healthily, let that treat be your goal. It all goes back to that idea of forward-thinking: envision yourself being successful, and eventually, you can and will get there.

Celebrate your success when you make healthy food choices. Realize that instant gratification only gives an illusion of control and that learning to eat healthier is true control. The adverse effects of instant gratification can often be long-lasting, so keep yourself busy and remember to be patient with yourself as you make changes to your lifestyle. 

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Paisley Hansen

Paisley is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, beauty, and fashion. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

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