20 Confidence Boosters That Work

Amanda Page | June 20, 2013

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Self-confidence is one piece of the happiness pie and is essential in a healthy personality. Low self-confidence is a major contributor to depression because it influences how you view yourself and your ability to accomplish goals and interact with others. Here are a few small changes to your daily routine that can help boost confidence.

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There is a lot of research suggesting that volunteering helps people feel better about themselves.  If you like animals, consider walking dogs. If you are passionate about children or education, volunteer in a local school or offer tutoring services. Or if you lack time to volunteer, consider making a donation. Meaningful giving will help you feel connected to others while making you feel like a better person.

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Okay, it may sound obvious, but recent studies show that smiling during stressful situations can help lower heart rate levels and lead to more positive emotions.  The physical act of smiling actually triggers your brain to feel more secure and relaxed.  So even if you feel like you’re faking it, you will feel benefits.

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Do a good deed

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You’ve heard it before. Random acts of kindess make the world a better place.  Performing good deeds can make you feel better about yourself while you brighten somebody else’s day.  Send a thank you card, bake some brownies for your co-workers, or compliment someone you usually don’t talk to. Even small good deeds can have a big impact on your mood.

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Accept compliments

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A major sign of low self-confidence is shrugging off praise or downplaying compliments.  If someone compliments you, accept it with grace. Think about the compliment and allow yourself to feel genuinely good about it.  Start building a mental list of what others like about you and retrieve that list the next time you are feeling down about yourself.

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Dress for success

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This may seem shallow at a glance, but clothing can actually have an impact on self-confidence. Researchers have found that people who dress for success actually think of themselves as more successful. Think about what your outfit says about you and how you feel in it.  Even if you sit at a computer all day and don’t interact with many people, consider wearing a nicely pressed shirt instead of a hoodie.

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Learn something new

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Personal achievement and valuable skills perpetuate self-confidence, so learning something new will help nurture positive feelings about yourself.  Take a class, learn a new language, or learn to cook something difficult.

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Ignore your inner critic

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You will always be your worst critic.  Often we lose self-confidence because the little voice in the back of our minds is telling us that we aren’t good enough or that failure is imminent.  Learn to ignore this voice and give yourself some credit.  Prove that inner voice wrong and exceed your personal expectations.

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Getting exercise improves your mood, releases stress, and eventually will help you feel better about how you look. And it isn’t necessary to be wildly ambitious.  Just 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is enough to have a positive impact on your mood and your health.  Setting fitness goals for yourself and meeting those challenges will also help boost self-confidence as you see your discipline diminish your lazier tendencies.

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Stand up straight

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Slouching comes across as sheepish and unhealthy, whereas good posture displays a sense of confidence, regardless if you are feeling it.  Stand tall and relax your shoulders.  Think about elongating the spine and holding your head straight so your eyes gaze forward. Also maintain good posture while sitting.  Good posture brings a host of mental and physical benefits including a stronger core, better breathing, and less stress.

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Eat right

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Food has a strong impact on how we feel.  You probably already know that eating healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, and fish are good for your appearance, but eating these foods also affects your mood.  Picture your diet as a chain of events, consuming healthier foods will lead to a smaller waistline and a happier mood, which in turn leads to more energy and self-confidence. Small changes bring results.

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Assume people like you

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A major symptom of low self-confidence is worrying too much about what others think and assuming that people focus on your flaws.  This negative thinking can only lead to bad emotions and set you up for failure.  Flip that attitude around and assume that people like you. Start by recognizing the situations when this happens and make a conscious choice to think positively about yourself.

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Get organized

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Set small weekly organization goals, such as cleaning out your purse or rearranging your bookshelves.  Managing just one small piece of your life can have a big impact on how in control you feel.

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Meditation has shown to be effective in promoting stress reduction, relaxation, and productivity.  Likewise, it has been shown to help with managing depression, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease. According to researchers at UCLA, the brain gets stronger as meditation is practiced over time. Brain strength is measured in the amount of gyrification, or folding of brain tissue, which allows the brain to process information more efficiently.

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Talk to strangers

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Engaging in conversations with new people breaks habits of insecurity and makes you feel more outgoing and personable, leading to a more confident self.  This doesn’t mean you have to be the life of the party; just start by talking to the barista at the coffee shop or someone on your commute to work.

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Ditch the gender stereotypes

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Too often people assume limitations based on gender stereotypes–for instance that men are better at math and science, or that women are better communicators.  Don’t let these stereotypes get in your way. So what if the class you want to take is predominately male or female?  Accept the challenge and believe in your own abilities.

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Avoid the mirror

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Studies have shown that focusing on our physical appearance makes us more anxious and less happy. Try avoiding the mirror or significantly limiting the time spent looking in the mirror and analyzing physical imperfections.  Start by noting how often you look in the mirror, as well the length of time. Then begin to eliminate the unnecessary mirror-gazing.  Remember: You are you own worst critic, so limit those opportunities to bully yourself.

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Make eye contact

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Confident people generally have good eye contact when they are speaking and listening.  Like standing up straight, this confident mannerism will help hide your insecurities and leave you feeling more confident.

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Stop procrastinating

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Avoiding major tasks can weigh on your mind – creating stress and crushing confidence.  Simply forcing yourself to tackle a daunting task will decrease that anxiety and lead to an immediate feeling of accomplishment.

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Treat yourself

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People who are caregivers are consistently focusing their attention on others tend to have lower self-confidence since they spend very little time working on personal achievements or their own physical and mental well-being.  If you had a big meeting at work, reward yourself with some time to unwind with some wine and a bubble bath that night.  Or if you get that raise you’ve been working for, treat yourself to those shoes you’ve been eyeing.

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Allow 'me time'

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Spending some time on your self is also important. Consider changing your hair color, put on some self-tanner, or try an at-home facial.  Studies have shown that women who have a tan actually feel happier, healthier, more rested, and confident.  A facial and a change of hair color will help you feel and look fresher, helping to amp up confidence.