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6 Ways to Improve Your Willpower | Buffer Blog

How willpower works in the brain

The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps us with things like decision-making and regulating our behavior, needs to be looked after.

Feed your brain with good-quality food so it has enough energy to do its job and get enough sleep.

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6 Ways to Improve Your Willpower | Buffer Blog

6 Ways to Improve Your Willpower | Buffer Blog

https://buffer.com/resources/willpower-and-the-brain-why-its-so-hard-to-avoid-temptation

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Key Ideas

What willpower is

The willpower response is a reaction to an internal conflict. You want to do one thing, but know you shouldn’t. Or you know you should do something, but you’d rather do nothing.

Willpower is finite

Willpower is like a muscle—it can get exhausted by overuse, but we might be able to strengthen our willpower by training it.

Increase your capacity for pressure

Our prefrontal cortex loses out in the battle for our energy when high-stress is involved.

Learn how to manage your stress. Stop to take a few deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed or tempted. 

"I can't" vs "I don't"

Every time you tell yourself “I can’t”, you’re indicating that you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.

Tell yourself "I don’t do that" instead. You're punishing yourself by saying “I can’t,” because that is a reminder of your limitations.

Get enough sleep

Your brain manages energy better when you get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation causes the prefrontal cortex to lose control over the regions of the brain that create cravings and the stress response. Sleep between 6.5 hours and 7.5 hours every night.

Meditate

Meditation has also been linked to increasing the reserve of willpower we have available. Brain changes have been observed after eight weeks of brief daily meditation training.

Postpone things for later

If you’re trying to break a bad habit, tell yourself “not now, but later.” People who do this are generally less afflicted by the temptation of something they are trying to avoid.

Exercise

Regular physical exercise can make us more resilient to stress; relaxing, mindful exercise like yoga and intense physical training can provide these benefits.

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Get More Sleep

Sleep deprivation makes you weak and tired. It has a direct impact on your focus and decision-making, whilst slowly exhausting your source of energy.

Sleep between 7.5 and 8....

Meditate

Meditation improves your attention, focus, self-awareness, and lower your stress levels.

Meditating for even just a few minutes every day will help you to clear your head while activating the areas of your brain related to decision-making and emotions.

Develop Good Habits

When we are stressed, we tend to unconsciously fall back on ingrained habits, whether they are helpful or harmful.

Creating good habits helps you get through stressful situations without affecting your willpower.

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What willpower is
What willpower is

Willpower is the ability to resist or delay short-term desires to achieve long-term goals. Other names for willpower are self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation, determinati...

Benefits of willpower
  • Self-control appears to be a better predictor of academic achievement, a determining factor of effective leadership, and essential for marital satisfaction.
  • People who harness their willpower more effectively are happier, healthier, have better relationships, are further ahead in their careers, are more able to manage stress and deal with conflict.
The neuroanatomy of willpower
  • The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of our brains situated right behind our forehead. It is responsible for abstract thinking, analyzing thoughts, and regulating behavior.
  • The PFC controls what we think about, what we pay attention to, how we feel. Studies point out that this part of the brain is only fully developed around age 25.
  • The "I will power" is controlled by the region near the upper left side of the brain and helps you start and continue with not so fun tasks.
  • The right side handles the "I won't power," preventing you from acting out on every impulse.
  • The "I want power" sits in the middle of the PFC and keeps track of your goals and desires.

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Protein rich meals

The brain is a decision making muscle and needs to be sufficiently fed to provide the necessary willpower.

Eat meals at regular intervals. The meals should contain healthy ...

Slow and steady

Willpower can be increased, but it is a slow and gradual process (just like increasing muscle mass).

Real change requires one small start at a time.

Dark chocolate

Sometimes we are in a position where we need to make a quick decision, and it feels tough.

Take a bite of dark chocolate to help boost your willpower.

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