Six Effective Self-Control Techniques

Regulating your emotions is necessary in a wide variety of situations. Among the best self-control techniques is the way you direct your attention. We'll tell you more about it.
Six Effective Self-Control Techniques

Last update: 15 December, 2022

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.

The famous maxim of the great Greek philosopher Socrates will serve as a support for the topic at hand. That is, 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.

Knowing how to control your emotions, temptations, and basic instincts is extremely important when leading a full and healthy life.

Self-discipline can help in every part of life. It’s useful for everything, from 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. Let’s take a look.

Keys to self-control techniques

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.

In addition, it can help you in all areas of life, from saying no to drugs to avoiding unpayable debt, including credit card debt.

Let’s see, then, what are some concrete guidelines to achieve this goal with 6 of the best self-control techniques.

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

A woman happy doing shopping.

1. Pay attention to your behavior

By taking a few moments to analyze situations well, it’ll be easier for you to perceive certain signs that often repeat in your behavior.

For example, if when you see a nice purse in a shop window and your first impulse is to go in and buy it, perhaps it’s useful to be alert in circumstances like that.

If you try detecting which are habits and routines present in your daily life, you’ll have taken another step in controlling those behaviors you want to change.

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

A 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.

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.

However, as the effort is sustained over a period of time, new habits will begin to be more automatic.

It’s important to remember this aspect so as not to abandon them. If you persist, you’ll manage to establish the habit.

4. Self-control techniques: relax

A 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. You can also put into practice other methods like meditation.

Just as it was essential to identify certain behaviors, it’s also essential to pay attention to the information provided by the different emotions you feel.

When you’re feeling anxious, angry, or are about to make a mistake, try to relax. The idea is that you don’t make pressurized or irrational decisions. 

5. Pay attention to your environment.

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.

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.

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.

It’s up to you to do these self-control techniques

We’ve reviewed some of the best self-control techniques that can be applied in complex situations where you feel overwhelmed.

Both paying attention to specific aspects and making the effort to change habits, relax, or relieve discomfort are ideas to consider.

So, what are you waiting for?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • 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.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.