Vitality and willpower are limited resources and can be used up. This concept is about 100 years old. (One of the many things Old Sigmund Freud discovered.)
But it has never been able to get a foothold in the scientific community. Only in 1998 did social psychologist, Roy Baumeister introduced the concept of “ego-depletion”. He showed that our willpower varies significantly throughout the day and that it can be depleted.
In various studies, Baumeister and his colleagues have proved that, after mastering a task that demands self-discipline while executing decisions, a second repetition of the same task is mastered far less successfully.
Apparently, the first round has already weakened the ability to execute decisions and concentrate.
What conclusions can be drawn from Baumeister’s findings?
- If you have to make important decisions, you’d better postpone them to the next morning. Granny’s old advice is to “sleep over it,” especially if you are angry about someone wanting to get even, science advises you to wait for the next morning. The same is true for important purchases (a car or a house). People are more likely to give in to the salesperson (or to give up completely) late in the afternoon than in the morning.
- Lack of sleep or a stressful day weaken our willpower. Therefore, it is important that you see to it that you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Furthermore, if your day-to-day life is actually stressful, you want to implement any kind of stress management. (Relaxation techniques, time management, work-life balance, etc.)
- On the physiological level, a lack of willpower relates to a decrease in glucose (sugar). That’s why we have a craving for something sweet if we feel mentally exhausted. But better than seeking refuge in few chocolate bars, you’d better try to eat carbohydrates (preferably complex carbohydrates) throughout the day on a moderate basis. That’s not even healthier, but you will be able to keep your weight, and you will have a regular supply of “fuel” for your willpower.