Following on from Part 1 of The Willpower Battery where we learnt how the battery is depleted throughout the day, we will now look at willpower exercises.

Before going into the practical exercise I need to make clarity about few points

Keep in mind

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1) Your willpower depletes throughout the day: there is no escape from this, the longer the day, the easier is to fall into temptation and fail the willpower challenges that we might face.

You know how it goes. A cookie or a beer on the way home, watching tv instead of working on your assignments, going to the pub rather than hitting the gym.

2) A bad sleep will result in a half-full battery: if you ever had a horrible night sleep you know that the day will start on the wrong foot.

My favourite phrase in those days was “don’t talk to me today”.

3) Being ill, physically tired or chronically anxious dramatically decreases willpower. 

Now let’s step to the real deal. Assuming that we don’t have to face situation 1, 2 and 3 and we are in a normal state, there are some practical ways to improve our willpower battery daily.

Train your willpower

1) Rest: this might sound obvious but resting and actually doing nothing in the middle of the day will recharge your battery. No wonder smart companies like Google have napping rooms for their employees.

Here I’m not talking about reading the paper or browsing Facebook. I’m talking about sitting by a tree, reading a fiction book or simply sitting on a chair and do nothing.

2) Physical exercise: this might sound counter intuitive but actually breaking your day with a workout will increase endorphin and serotonin (happy hormones) and leave you recharged.

This assuming you feed yourself with good food straight after.

3) Meditation: it has been proven that meditation has a profound impact on our willpower battery and on the development of the prefrontal cortex. After only 3 non consecutive hours of meditation people have shown more self control and better calm.

After 10 consecutive hours of meditation we could see a thickening of the prefrontal cortex. People that regularly meditate show better reasoning, better self control and improved daily awareness.

willpower exercises_2Exercise: The breathing space

Rest and exercise are easy to apply for everyone but meditation is a different story. I personally like to take meditation carefully and implement it step by step during your journey towards becoming a high performance individual. A good starting point is the breathing space.

This is a simple exercise that you can do daily or even several times a day to quickly recharge your willpower and make better choices.

It goes like this:

– Stop whatever you were doing and sit on a chair.

– Close your eyes and move your body in a comfortable position with your back straight.

– Start feeling your body in all its touch points. Feet on the floor, hands on the legs, back on the chair.

– Slowly tune in to your breath with eyes closed and focus on the raising and falling sensation.

– Start counting the breaths up to ten. After ten start all again from one.

– When you notice your mind wondering around do not worry too much. Notice it and get back to counting the breaths.

– Repeat the count ten or fifteen times, or if you like better count up to 150. Generally is better to count ten by ten not to lose the count when a thought will arise in your head.

– Open your eyes, stretch and enjoy the sense of calm and peace.

You can use this exercise whenever you want. I personally use it on the tube, after my lunch, or even with eyes open during a long meeting if I notice I’m losing my focus and getting tempted by some sweets on the table.

Getting these willpower exercises into your life will strengthen your willpower battery.  Look out for the next installment in the series and continue reading fascinating articles into the mind and willpower.

Connect with Expert Davide Alfonsi 

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