Dealing with impulsive behavior can be a difficult challenge. You may feel guilty, confused or embarrassed about your actions and how they impact others. Thankfully, there are effective solutions that you can practically apply in your everyday life. This brief guide explains how to identify impulsive behavior plus some strategies to reduce impulsivity in adults.
Symptoms of Impulsive Behavior
We think we know impulsive behavior when we see it. However, there’s one core characteristic that impulsive actions tend to share: The people in question don’t consider the consequences of those words or actions until the damage is already done. In other words, they act or speak without thinking. We’re all prone to do this sometimes, but people who struggle with impulsivity tend to experience these problems more frequently than others. Also, impulsive actions tend to cause harm to oneself and others. Some examples include:
- Binge eating
- Risky sexual activity
- Destroying property
- Reckless driving
Impulsivity can have many different causes. Some adults struggle with emotional regulation or executive functioning. Emotional regulation is the process by which we manage our emotions and choose appropriate responses. Executive functioning involves planning, breaking down tasks into steps, following instructions, focusing, attention and impulse control.
We typically learn emotional regulation and develop executive functioning skills while we’re children and teenagers. However, there are many reasons why these remain challenges when we’re adults. Some of us may not have grown up in loving and supportive environments. Mental health issues can also impair both emotional regulation and executive function. These are also frequent challenges for neurodivergent people, such as those with ADHD.
How To Overcome Impulsivity
Impulsivity can be an ongoing challenge. However, there are impactful solutions you can use to gain better control. You may benefit from working with a mental health professional. Many different kinds of therapy techniques are available — cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy, for instance — so you can choose a provider using a method that works best for you.
Mindfulness may be another helpful approach for combating impulsivity. Simply put, mindfulness involves a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings and surroundings. There’s a wide range of mindfulness techniques you can choose from, but meditation is one of the most common. There are even dozens of ways to meditate: You can use apps, meditate along with videos or podcasts, work with an instructor in person or even use repetitive actions such as walking or doing dishes.
Over the counter anxiety medication can take some of the edge off when it comes to irritability, anxiety or other conditions that can bring on impulsivity. One great example is Brillia, which contains Lapine S-100B immune globulin. It’s a natural antibody to S-100B, an essential protein that leads to overactive neurons when its levels are too high. By binding to S-100B, Brillia reduced those levels. Why is this important? Because excess S-100B is linked to irritability, frustration, focusing problems, attention issues and risky impulsive behaviors.
Impactful Solutions for Impulsivity
Impulsive behavior isn’t necessarily a moral failing. People may struggle with it for many reasons. Mental health therapies, mindfulness practices and nonprescription anxiety medication for adults can all work together to help better manage impulsivity.