Updated 11/15/2011 08:19 AM
Health Works: Practicing self-control
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Self-control is something we all have to practice at one time or another. Whether we are trying to resist our favorite sweet foods, or attempting to hold back our tongue when someone flares our temper.
University of Texas Professor Art Markman recently helped conduct a study about aggression.
"In everyday life we have these kinds of self-control situations all the time,” he said. “You can imagine going to work one day, and there's a boss who's really riding you all day and you'd love to say something back to the boss, but you know that's not a good idea so you spend the entire day controlling yourself."
Practicing self-control during the day can often make it more difficult to be disciplined when at home.
"If your spouse or your kids say something that gets you angry, you may find it harder to control yourself so you might act more aggressively," Dr. Markman said.
That loss of self-control could also manifest in different ways.
"That single-serving carton of Ben and Jerry's sitting in the freezer may just call out to you a little too loudly and you may find yourself giving in, even though under circumstances you may avoid eating that," Markman said.
Dr. Markman says in those situations it’s best to ask for help, apologize in advance or remove the temptation from your sight.
"What you're doing is putting yourself in a situation where you can relax all of those self-control resources and give them a chance to build back up," he said. "So in the event something else happens that day that requires self-control you won't find yourself completely unarmed."
Professor Markman and his team conducted the study with sleep-deprived individuals and individuals who weren't sleep deprived.
The researchers found that being tired doesn't mean that you are more aggressive, but when you're forced to use self-control you have a harder time controlling your aggression.