Do you struggle with being able to control your impulses? Do you find it hard to stop yourself from indulging when you would like to be more in control? This could mean anything from trying to stop yourself from overeating or maybe shopping and buying something you know you shouldn’t buy right now. Or maybe you want to stop yourself from gambling too much, or maybe your impulses are causing you to chase after someone you know is clearly wrong for you but you just can’t seem to stop yourself from this destructive pattern. Impulse control can take many forms in your life. It doesn’t really matter what form of impulses we’re talking about here, the issue is all the same. When the impulse to do the destructive behavior comes over you it’s difficult to control it and that’s what we’re trying to gain mastery over.
So how do we do that? Well, I’m going to show you how you can re-direct your brain and change those pathways to different and more healthy patterns so that you’re not caught up in that self-destructive loop anymore.
Negative impulses are an unhealthy way of behaving so the first thing we need to do is begin a healthier way of behaving. So consider the following steps to clearing away the negative energy and replacing it with positive new habits.
- Get plenty of sleep. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your ability to control your impulses. In some severe cases it can cause you to be confused and even appear drunk and affect your cognitive ability. Sleep is very important for many other aspects of our lives as well. It’s a well known fact that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep have a harder time losing weight than people who are well rested.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a serious issue. In addition to throwing off your electrolytes it can cause you to think you’re hungry and can cause you to have difficulty concentrating, paying attention, and controlling your impulses, even mimicking dementia in some cases.
- Keep busy. This may sound trite, but if you know you have a problem with impulse control in some area such as eating, or smoking, gambling or anything else that you are especially aware of then you can absolutely be aware of it and get a hobby or find some activity that you know you can do when these impulses arise. If you know you’ll want to have a snack at 3 pm or maybe a cigarette, then maybe arrange to work on your hobby then or read a book, or work on some craft. When I quit smoking “cold turkey” 30 years ago, I planned ahead for this and when the cravings took hold I taught myself to crochet and make hooked rugs so my hands were always busy and I never wanted to stop what I was working on to go out and have a cigarette. This method worked perfectly and not only did it help with my impulse control everyone got a pair of crocheted slippers that Christmas as well.
- Meet new people. Join new activities/groups. At the time I was quitting smoking, I joined several classes to learn new crafts such as the rug hooking class and also a microwave cooking class. This not only got me out of the house, but I met a bunch of new and interesting people which in turn got me into other interests. One of the women I met was into macramé and she taught me how to do that so I began making macramé tables and purses. I got very crafty. AND BUSY! And I also was going out with these new people so it got my mind off of my impulses. I was creating new brain pathways and changing the old ones.
- Exercise. This one could be a hard one if you don’t like exercise. I don’t like it, but it was good for me. I joined a gym and began going to the gym daily after work. When you’re at the gym you can’t be smoking or snacking. And you’re with healthy, busy people. This kind of healthy behavior can’t help but rub off on you. But you don’t have to spend money at the gym. Walking is free and so is body weight exercise you can do at home. The point is just to do something healthy for your body that is counter-productive to the unhealthy behaviors you were previously doing. Before long you’ll realize that you don’t have those unhealthy impulses anymore because you’ve replaced them with healthier ones.
- Eat right. Learn healthy ways to eat and maybe try some new recipes with healthier ways to have your favorite foods. It can’t hurt and it’s always fun to try new foods that you’ve never tried before. Maybe try some new international recipes. Expand your horizons. Maybe cut back on your portions a little bit and see what happens. You might find that you don’t require as much food as you always ate before. Change it up a little bit.
- Meditate.This is good for your health and your soul. Try to take a little time each day to just meditate for a few minutes. Have a little quiet time and relax. Give your body time to recharge it’s batteries.
8.Be Grateful. I try to be thankful each and every day for all of my blessings. I believe that being grateful puts you in a zen state and makes you aware of how blessed you are and makes you want to do for others and make them happy too. I believe impulse control comes from being in a state of balance and gratitude.