Spending time on social media, surrounding ourselves with overachieving friends and colleagues—sometimes these comparisons cause our self-confidence to waver. Use these tricks to build self-confidence, fast.

By Lexi Walters Wright
August 19, 2019

Talk to yourself the way you would a friend. That’s the conventional advice behind how to build self-confidence. But science suggests there may be even more practical ways to extend some compassion and encouragement to yourself in times of self-doubt and negativity. Try these tips to bolster your sense of self, stat.

Tap into Your Social Network

Scientists find that belonging to groups of friends may offer a bigger self-esteem boost than just individual friendships. So when you’re having a moment of self-doubt, send a message to your crew (a neighborhood text thread, a group Facebook message, an email to your besties), asking for a pep talk: “Feeling anxious about today’s parent-teacher conference. Help!” Watch the chorus of support roll in, accept their positive encouragement, and then go forth with confidence.

Take the Compliment, Already!

Even if a friend does offer you a kind reflection on your smarts and preparedness, there’s a good chance you won’t believe it. Researchers note that women are far less likely than men to respond to a compliment with language that is accepting. Practice saying, “Thank you. That means a lot right now.” Then let that confidence boost really let it sink in.

Dress in Red or Black (Really)

These classics aren’t the flashiest hues, but research studies have proved good ol' red and black to be the colors most wearers and passersby consider to demonstrate the most confidence. (Yet another reason a black blazer is a wardrobe staple, still.) Consider wearing either when posing for work headshots, a family photo, or a new profile picture.

Straighten Up

You’ve likely heard that certain power stances—standing like Super Woman, for example—instantly boost your self-confidence, making you look mighty when you feel puny. It turns out, you don’t even need to leave your chair to strike that pose: Simply sitting up straight and lifting your chest can make you feel more confident than slouching over, science says.

Related: 4 Yoga Moves to Strengthen Your Core & Pelvic Floor

Break a Sweat

Fit in a workout the morning of a high-stress experience and you’ll likely start the day with a scientifically backed positive attitude about yourself. In one study, physical activity was directly and indirectly linked to participants’ perceived physical fitness and self-esteem, regardless of their BMI. Who knew a little perspiration could be so motivating?

Give Yourself a Hug

You know those warm fuzzies you feel when you get a hug from a pal? You actually trigger that same release of oxytocin and reduction of cortisol in yourself via touch. Expert in the field of self-compassion Kristin Neff says squeezing, stroking, or rocking your body when you’re nervous can effectively tap into feel-good sensations—excellent for when your self-confidence is faltering before a presentation.

Write a Reminder of How Great You Are

Self-affirmations aren’t only for cheesy “Hang in there!” posters. A visual reminder of specifically why you’ve got a situation under control—whether you’re interviewing for a job or making a difficult decision—can calm your nerves and increase your confidence, research reveals.

The night before a stressful experience, jot down why you know you’re on top of your game: I have prepared for this; I am providing for my family. Right before the tricky moment, look at that sticky note for a I’ve-got-this boost.

Pump Up the (Bass Heavy) Music

Yes, listening to your wedding playlist or tunes from your high school days can make you grin on command. But to increase your confidence as well as your happiness quotient, choose music with heavy bass lines. If it gently rattles your speakers or earbuds (hello, Beyonce! And, you too, Jock Jams), it’s probably powerful enough to get your feel-good juices flowing.

Related: Research Says Experiencing Live Music Can Help You Live a Longer, Happier Life

Head Back to the Drawing Board

Even just 45 minutes of art-making can improve your feelings of self-confidence, research shows. Creative expression can reduce stress levels and increase those ta-da tendencies. So consider keeping a doodle pad and some markers or gel pens at your desk or in your glove compartment for a quick art pick-me-up.

Do a Simple Good Deed

It’s basic but true: Doing something nice for someone else really can make you feel better about yourself. Researchers say doing so creates a positive feedback loop: Your generous behavior inspires others to do the same, and you all end up feeling happier.

So when you’re struggling, go ahead and pick up that coffee tab for the car behind you in the drive-through or send a quick I-think-you’re-great postcard to a friend. It doesn’t take a lot of planning or effort to perk up your self-confidence now—and possibly spread good vibes.

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