by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 13th May, 2019
Developing good self control is a lot easier when you're not surrounded by distractions and temptations begging you to pick them up and stop working on whatever it is you're supposed to be doing. Removing these unnecessary stimuli is a crucial step towards creating a supportive environment to work in.
Whether the distraction is your phone, other people, food, the TV, a pile of work to do or even just your bed, removing these temptations will help you to remain on task and focused and help you to strengthen your self-discipline to the point where you can easily resist temptations.
Many different studies looking into the psychology of concentration and self-discipline have noted that eating healthily can help to improve your self-control.
Of course, sometimes this is easier said than done, especially if what you're trying to become more disciplined about it your eating habits. Nevertheless, it has been shown that people with low blood sugar generally have a tougher time concentrating and remaining disciplines. Eating three healthy meals per day can go a long way to improving self-discipline in other areas of your life.
Self-discipline is all about creating new and improved habits. This isn't an easy process however. It takes a while to create a new habit, and at first it will normally feel uncomfortable and strange.
Many people fall into the trap of wanting their new habits to feel "good" or be "at the right time", but in truth, you will rarely find that your brain naturally wants to develop better habits all by itself. You have to push yourself to embrace the discomfort and create new habits until eventually they do feel right, and become second nature.
Developing self-discipline does not mean that you need to sit in a cold metal box all day without any distractions and never have a break or any fun. Giving yourself no allowance for mistakes, fatigue and failures is more likely to ensure that you fail than making room for them.
Understand that you are bound to get tired, mess up or have "down days". In order to deal with this, you need to schedule in breaks to rest and recuperate. Without them, you'll likely end up burning out.
Learning how to discipline yourself and creating new and improved habits takes time and a lot of trial and error. You're bound to fail and mess up in some way, so it's important to go easy on yourself and forgive yourself when you do.
Rather than wallowing in anger or self-pity, try instead to reframe any "failures" as merely a test that went wrong, and see what you can learn from it.
We all have weaknesses, no one's perfect. Whether it's chocolate or spending too much time on social media or over-drinking on a night out, we all have a shortcoming.
Rather than working to try and cover up or eliminate every single perceived "flaw" that you have, accept that they exist and that they are a part of who you are.
This doesn't mean you can't still work on changing them, but acknowledging that you have these weaknesses and accepting them for what they are will help you to feel at peace with yourself right now, and promote a healthy mindset to further develop your self-discipline.
Setting clear goals is a very important part of self-discipline. If you're already struggling to focus and work on a set task, you're going to find it even harder without clear direction.
Whatever it is you need to do to find and define your goals do it. Think about what success means to you, and then define the steps you need to take to get their. Keep yourself reminded of your goals with some clear objectives and a timeline of when you want to complete them. If you're ever feeling unmotivated or uninspired, try creating a vision board to stick on your wall.
Self-discipline doesn't just appear overnight, in the same way that the ability to lift 100lb weights or run a 10k doesn't just appear overnight. Just because you want to be self-disciplined, doesn't mean you will be right away.
In the same way that you need to practice and develop your muscles, you also need to work on your self-discipline every single day. It can be tough, and very draining, but ultimately it's worth it.
One of key components of developing self-discipline is the belief that you can develop it. According to a Stanford University study, you'll only have as much willpower as you think you have.
People who believe that they don't have much willpower or self-discipline are putting unnecessary limits on themselves when in all likelihood, they are a lot more capable than they think. People who believe that they have the ability and the willpower are much more likely to actually have it.
Developing good habits is tricky, and when life throws you a curveball that tests your willpower, having a mental plan already in place to help you deal with it will help you immensely.
For example, if you are trying to develop more self-discipline with regards to your food and better eating habits, being invited to a very unhealthy all-you-can-eat buffet is going to test your abilities immensely. Rather than assuming you are going to fail, see this as a test and have a plan of action as to how you're going to ace it.
Perhaps it could be that you restrict yourself to only one plate, and focus on trying to eat as mindfully as possible and enjoy the conversation with your friends rather than filling up your plate as soon as possible.
Last but not least, make sure you reward yourself for all the hard work and effort you're putting into improving your self-discipline. It's no easy feat to create new habits and work at them every day, so make sure to treat yourself when you achieve a new goal, or simply make it through another week.