The 6 Best Self-Control Techniques

06 November, 2018
Did you know that physical exercise is great for releasing tension and bettering your self- control? If it's hard for you to remain calm, try to practice some of these disciplines to help you.

Maybe you’re trying to quit smoking, or you need to reduce food-related anxiety, or you have a compulsive shopping problem. Having self-control techniques to keep your emotions reined in is essential when faced with these types of situations where the consequences can be disastrous.

Because of this, the following article will show you the best ways to improve your self-control.

Get to know yourself: the basis of self-control

Knowing how to control your emotions, temptations, and basic instincts is extremely important when leading a full and healthy life. Self-control is an ability that can be learned. Plus, you can work on it daily in order to avoid negative emotions such as anger, gluttony, and envy.

Self-discipline can help in every part of life. It’s useful for everything, from saying no to drugs to avoiding debt. In order to achieve this control, the first and foremost thing you have to do is get to know yourself. This means that you should understand your strengths and your weaknesses. Above all else, you should work on your weaknesses.

Following a diet, quitting smoking, or not becoming angry when you are stuck in traffic are all great for both your mental and physical health. However, in order to do these things, it’s essential that you work to understand yourself.

The dangers of irrationality

Since irrationality is usually seen as the opposite of self-control, we have to try to be conscious of it at all times. However, it is especially important when we have to make a decision or have to behave in a certain manner.

Eating chocolate, smoking cigarettes, or buying new shoes gives us short-lived gratification, but it’s not good for our future. The worst thing is that later we’re faced with regret, frustration, and, in many cases, depression. That’s why it is important to listen and look out for the signs your body is giving you in different situations. Then, take a moment to really analyze the situation. 

If you’re looking at a beautiful purse in a store window, don’t enter the store immediately to buy it. Think about whether you can afford it, and how much debt you already have.

If you’re about to light a cigarette, remember the negative effects that smoking has on your health. Likewise, if you’re about to get a second helping of dessert or you want to have one more drink, try to take a step back and reconsider.

Keys to self-control techniques

Woman happy doing shopping

Of course, it’s not easy. After all, self-control is a fragile thing and it doesn’t last long. In a matter of seconds, it can disappear and we can start to act irrationally. As with our muscles, our willpower can be trained.

How? Through practice, consistency, and compromise.

It’s important to always be attentive and remember in which situations self-control is welcome. The best self-control techniques for your emotions are:

1. Pay attention to your behavior

For people who aren’t conscious of their habits and routines, it’s very difficult for them to control their decisions and attitude.

  • If you want to lose weight, you should plan what you’re going to eat on a daily basis.
  • If you need to keep your bank account under control, you’ll have to understand your spending habits

2. Don’t think about the things that worry you

Woman looking worried

While you should be rational with your actions, it’s not good to obsess over them. Your mind is usually “temperamental.” In these cases, the more you try to avoid a certain thought, the more it shows up in your imagination.

So, only practice these self-control techniques when they are necessary. Dedicate the rest of your time to other activities.

Read more: Chronic Worry: 3 Effects on Your Health and How to Deal with It

3. Have healthy habits.

All of our attitude and habit changes require self-control and compromise. This is true whether it be going to the gym to change our diets, working to quit smoking, or not spending money…just because.

They say the brain needs 21 days to make something a habit. You have to endure this amount of time in order to achieve your goals. After the third week, these healthy habits will no longer feel robotic or forced. Instead, they will become automatic. It’s just a question of whether you can make it through this period of time.

4. Relax

Woman relaxing listening to music

Breathing deeply, counting to 10 (or as long as you can) and closing your eyes can be one of the best self-control techniques to calm yourself down and increase your self-control. When you’re feeling anxious, angry, or are about to make a mistake, try to relax. You can also put into practice other methods like meditation or drinking chamomile tea, for example.

The idea is that you don’t make pressurized or irrational decisions. 

Read more: 7 Great Ways to Relax Your Mind

5. Pay attention to your environment.

If your friends go to the bar every day after work and you’re trying to stop drinking, maybe you could distance yourself from them a bit. You could also suggest doing something else instead. Similarly, if you know that you’re a compulsive shopper, don’t go to the mall if you’re feeling sad or bored.

If you want to lose weight, go to grocery shopping after you have eaten lunch. Likewise, if you want to focus more on your work, keep your phone out of your reach, etc. The environment that you’re surrounded by can make you act in a certain way. Change the situations that don’t allow you to exercise your self-control the way you need to.

6. Release your tension.

Self-control techniques using meditation

There are many activities and self-control techniques that can help you channel the emotions that are affecting you. Exercising, sports, walking, or taking a bubble bath are great ways to release your tension and avoid negative behavior.


  • Allemand, M., Job, V., & Mroczek, D. K. (2019). Self-control development in adolescence predicts love and work in adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(3), 621–634.
  • Duckworth, A. L., Gendler, T. S., & Gross, J. J. (2016). Situational Strategies for Self-Control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(1), 35–55.
  • Grass, J., Krieger, F., Paulus, P., Greiff, S., Strobel, A., & Strobel, A. (2019). Thinking in action: Need for Cognition predicts Self-Control together with Action Orientation. PLoS One, 14(8), e0220282.
  • Galla, B. M., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(3), 508–525.