Self-Discipline for Healthier Outcomes

  • August 26, 2020

Self-Discipline: the act of controlling your impulses; the act of denying yourself. 


Self-discipline is also known as the ability to push yourself to take action, accomplish your goals and stay motivated. As it relates to health-related behaviors, self-discipline is the ability to make healthy nutrition choices, regulate alcohol to a moderate level, prioritize a consistent sleep schedule, monitor and moderate stress, and exercise on a regular basis.

Self-discipline can be summed up as “thinking versus doing”. We all know that living a healthy lifestyle leads to a higher quality of life but the act of doing what you are thinking can be challenging. Self- discipline has also been defined as the necessary mental strength that is required to control one’s behaviors, feelings, and desires. Rallying up the mental strength necessary to consistently make healthy choices can be difficult, especially in times of stress.

According to a 2013 study on self-control, people with high self-control are happier than those without. The study went on to say that people who had self-discipline were more capable of dealing with goal conflicts. Those with self-discipline did not allow their choices to be dictated by impulses or feelings. Instead they made informed, thoughtful, and rational decisions without feeling stressed or upset. 

Consider that self-discipline is a means of personal growth. The growth that occurs from self-discipline can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem. The basic message to yourself is, “Yes I can!”

Tips for increasing self-discipline:

1. Remove temptations. Also known as “setting your stage for success”, by removing temptations you are allowing yourself better control of your eating, even when you feel stress. 

2. Plan ahead! The goal is to eat regularly with healthy options. We have all experienced trips to the grocery store when we are hungry. When we are hungry our ability to concentrate and stay focused suffers. Eat a healthy meal first, plan your trip according to the demands of the upcoming week, and then execute your plan. By regulating your blood sugar levels, you also increase your resolve to stay focused. Plan ahead by eating regularly and healthy! 

3. Get started! Set a date! Do NOT wait until it feels right! Self-discipline involves change. Change can be uncomfortable. If we wait until it feels right, we may consciously or even unconsciously resist change. 

4. Think about your own personal motivation. Will set  breaks help? Would scheduling a 5k motivate you? Would self-reward increase your motivation? 

5. Forgive and continue on! It is important to understand that self-discipline is not something we do 100% of the time to achieve success. Self-discipline slips sometimes but that does not mean it’s time to quit. Instead understand that you will have failures and move on! 

Written by Carrie Company