With the new year right around the corner, your New Year’s resolution may be heavy on your mind. Many people believe they can improve their lives by sticking to those yearly resolutions. However, after a few months, road blocks and a lack of willpower could lead to a loss of direction and commitment.

Do you want to eat better, exercise more often, avoid drugs, consume less alcohol, save more money for retirement, stop procrastinating on important tasks and achieve set goals? Willpower can help. 

What is Willpower?

Willpower is self control and it allows you to make good choices and stick to plans. It comes from the prefrontal cortex which is an area in the brain that plays a significant part in attention, decision making, and pursuing goals. For example, you use it when you reach for a salad when you’re craving a burger.

Here are five things you may not know about willpower.

1. Exercise Your Willpower Because It Is Like A Muscle

By exercising daily you help your muscles become stronger and perform with more stamina in physical activity. Increasing self-control is no different. It is a form of mental energy and treat it as such. Picture it as a muscle that needs strengthening. It can fatigue just like any other muscle, so pay close attention to feelings of stress. 

2. Proper Hydration And Nutrition Is Important

There’s a connection between our willpower, nutrition and hydration. If we want to be effective in resisting temptation, the prefrontal cortex needs proper hydration and nutrition.

Having a well balanced diet that includes lots of whole foods, vegetables, healthy proteins and low glycemic index carbs improve brain function. Hydration is equally important, so be sure to keep some water nearby wherever you go!

3. Mindset is Everything

When you are feeling off or having a low energy day, your self-control is not performing at its best. You will notice it is harder to focus after a challenging day. 

Keep your decision making for times when you feel at your best. If you have a mental block, consider backing away from the situation and return when your ability to focus resumes. This will ensure all decisions are made with a clear head. 

4. Willpower Can Be Affected When Around Others

It is true that other people can suck your energy and impact your ability to think clearly. Take a mental note of the surroundings that make you feel the most vulnerable. These feelings link to how effectively you are tapping into willpower, which other people’s energy can directly impact.

Getting ‘comfortable’ in a new relationship or situation can often mean unintentionally leaving self-control on the sidelines. Pay close attention to how other people’s actions or beliefs contribute to your overall decision-making process. Make note of these feelings.

5. It’s Comes In Limited Quantity

Willpower fatigue happens. Just like with our physical bodies deplete throughout the day, so can self-control. Research shows that interacting with others and maintaining relationships can actually deplete willpower.

According to the American Psychological Association, evidence suggests that willpower-depleted individuals can be low on fuel. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital to replenishing self-control. Some research suggests that brain cells that are working too hard have a difficult time maintaining self-control because glucose processes faster than it can be replenished.

Tips to Strengthen Willpower

  • Meditate for a few minutes each day
  • Exercise daily
  • Sleep 8 hours a night
  • Have a well balanced diet
  • Keep a diary to track progress and monitor behavior
  • Improve your posture
  • Delay personal gratification
  • Consume alcohol in moderation
  • And be sure to decrease stress levels

How are you going to strengthen your willpower?

Remember that having strong self-control will help you stick to all those New Year’s resolutions. This includes reaching your fitness and wellness goals. The stronger your willpower,  the easier it will be to commit to daily exercise and choosing healthier foods.