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At some point or another, everyone needs a confidence boost.
Like finding the perfect pair of jeans or getting to inbox zero, confidence is a pretty elusive thing. But without it, it’s all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and negativity.
And this not only hurts us on a personal level (anxiety, depression, membership to the lonely hearts club), but it can also put a damper on our professional success. That’s why we made it our mission to find self-confidence shortcuts.
Consider these tips your rocket boosters to soar over the toughest situations with swagger, whether it’s rocking a first date or acing an interview.
We searched high and low for the 19 best ways to boost confidence, and we have to say: they’re pretty darn awesome.
Here’s how to give yourself a confidence bump.
1. Spritz on a scent
Your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice. As it turns out, it can actually make you confident, too.
One study suggests that not only can a fragrance inspire confidence in men, but the more a gent likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel
Another study found that 90 percent of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.
2. Straighten up
Mom was right: The next time you find yourself slumping in your chair or slouching your shoulders, sit up straight!
According to a 2014 study, sitting with good posture can keep both your self-esteem and mood lifted.
3. Give me a “V”!
Though generally a part of a cheerleader’s repertoire, throwing your hands up in the air is a pretty spectacular power pose.
While you can’t bust this move out anytime anywhere, just 2 minutes in a wide stance with your hands in the air will give you an instant confidence boost.
There isn’t a whole lot of research backing this up. But give it a go — the worst thing you’ll lose is 2 minutes. And you stand a good chance of feeling frickin’ awesome after.
You might even want to invent your own pep rally cheer. (We’re not even kidding. See number 10.)
4. Nod along
Nodding your head isn’t just good for signaling “yes” or warming up in a group fitness class.
An early study suggests that the up-and-down movement may actually improve confidence in your thoughts, so feel free to nod away whenever you need an extra boost
5. Jam out
Cranking up the tunes can do great things for your mind and body. (Count ‘em! There are at least 20 health benefits associated with it.)
And now, research supports the notion that listening to certain music may lead to you feeling more powerful
To paraphrase Meghan Trainor, it’s all about that bass (no treble): listening to heavy-bass songs promotes more feelings of power than the low-bass songs.
6. Deal with failure
And it’s that kind of mentality (being able to live with failure and learn from setbacks) that helps you build self-confidence, says executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, PhD, author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
7. Be a pal
Fact: Life would be way less fun without friends.
Not only do besties provide impromptu dance parties, secret handshakes, and giggles galore, but they also improve both self-confidence and self-worth.
Check out these 16 tips on how to make new friends and keep the old. And the next time you need a boost, reach out to your inner circle for confirmation that you’re having a good hair day.
8. Embrace your superstitions
Go ahead and rock your lucky jersey or favorite charm bracelet.
A 2010 study suggests that having these kinds of tokens leads to improved performance and setting loftier goals — all by boosting your self-confidence.
And the confidence link doesn’t just exist with physical objects. Performing rituals, like rocking out to Led Zeppelin before hitting the race trail, for example, is also believed to increase confidence as well as decrease anxiety.
9. Break a sweat
Nope, we’ll never get tired of saying it: Exercise is good for you!
Apart from the many, many physical benefits, it also does the mind good. Case in point: One study found direct and indirect links between physical activity and self-esteem.
The findings of a 2019 study on the effects of self-esteem uncontrolled eating in health workers suggest that exercise was an effective way to nudge their self-esteem in the right direction.
So exercise isn’t only good for maintaining confidence — it’s also great for pulling you back up to your usual swag when your confidence crashes.
If you work toward your health goals, that comes across in your core confidence. So go pound the sidewalk or pull off some sick curls. Regardless of the body benefits, you’ll feel great about yourself afterward.
10. Play the flirt
Bring your flirting A game, everyone. Apart from being fun, flirting might actually help us feel better about ourselves. After all, what is flirting but a super-positive interaction with someone we think finds us nice to look at?
We’ve got a full guide on innocent flirting here.
Enlist your imagination to boost your confidence. Solid mental practices, like picturing yourself scoring the winning goal or even going through a tough workout, can improve self-image, according to 2020 research.
Try setting a super specific goal in as much detail as possible (one study suggests that the more detailed your vision of future success, the more confident you’ll feel). Then, imagine that you’ve achieved it.
Throw in a positive affirmation, and go through this practice right before or right after you hit the sheets for sleep, ideally while looking at yourself in the mirror so that you can literally tell yourself what you’ll accomplish and why you rock.
12. Be your own cheerleader
We mentioned that affirmations may help with visualizing successful outcomes, but they may also be powerful confidence-boosting tools on their own, especially during times of stress or struggle.
When you use self-affirmations, you’re less likely to focus on failures from your past and are perhaps more likely to learn from your mistakes
Not only that, but a positive outcome of these self-affirmations could trigger a cycle of positivity — more self-confidence leads to higher expectations and when met, brings even more self-confidence.
Woah, that’s so much self-esteem.
To harness this particular power of positive thinking, focus on the good stuff that makes you who you are (i.e. if you’re super witty or a truly spectacular cook, own it!)
13. Practice, practice, practice
Even if you’re blessed with oodles of natural talent, the ability to succeed and feel confident doesn’t rely on that alone. In fact, experts suggest that practicing for a task or responsibility is more important than simply relying on your gifts.
Prepping for the task at-hand (whether it’s a going through a presentation, practicing public speaking, etc.) will boost your confidence and improve the quality of your work. Which will then allow you to look back on your work and make you feel better.
Bottom line: dress rehearsals aren’t just for drama troupes. And even the traditional catastrophic pre-show practice serves a purpose in building your self-esteem.
14. Learn to play an instrument
While it’s certainly an investment in time and energy, learning to play an instrument may lead to a confidence boost. One study found that learning to play an instrument could lead to greater self-esteem.
(And it’ll earn you unlimited coolness points in our book.) Bonus: It’s also been shown to sharpen the mind and assist cognitive development. Brains and talent in one package? Yeah, you better start loving yourself.
It’s also one of the ways you can improve your memory.
15. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
The time for risk-taking is NOW.
Basically, we have control over how big our comfort zone is, according to Becky Blalock, a former Fortune 500 exec. When you take risks regularly, your comfort zone expands, she says.
“Even doing something seemingly small every day will lead you to something bigger,” says Nancy Vito, a transformational coach. “You will grow and will begin to feel unstoppable.”
Perfect example: For a 2014 study, researchers asked participants to talk to strangers on their commute to see whether it would be a positive experience
Here’s how one of our authors tackled social anxiety by diving way out of his comfort zone.
16. Just say f*ck it!
You can now use “confidence-building” as an excuse for all your salty language.
Swearing may make us feel empowered and that we have more control over certain situations. This may well boost our confidence and self-esteem.
Just be sure to be selective with the timing of your expletives. Dropping F-bombs at work, around conservative family members, or in other proper or professional settings won’t do anyone any good. (There are other ways to drop the mic. Check out number 15!)
So yes, f*ckedy f*ckedy f*ck f*ck. Swearing may also reduce pain, so we feel better already.
17. Cherish compliments
So save those sincere birthday cards, performance reviews, and even emails from mom and read them back to yourself when you need a shot of confidence.
18. Crack a smile
If there’s one, instant way to boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Flashing those pearly whites will make you appear both confident, calm, and composed.
But the effect isn’t just external: Science suggests that smiling can help nix feelings of stress, which may pave the way for happier and more relaxed emotions.
If you’re short on reasons to smile, we’ve got some pointers.