Feel better about yourself in one minute or less.
If you’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, join the club. So many people I know, including me, have been going through a rough season as of late. Whether your relationship is on the rocks, your job is super stressful, or you’re struggling with depression and anxiety, it’s easy to get down on yourself and feel like everything is your fault and you suck.
Having low self-esteem can be something of a vicious circle; first you feel bad about yourself, and then you feel bad because you feel bad. “No one wants to hang out with me when I’m so down,” you tell yourself. So you push your friends away and end up feeling a million times shittier, because you’re cut off from your support system.
And even if your friends are supportive and amazing, like mine are (yes, I’m super lucky and grateful), there’s only so much they can do to lift your spirits. No matter how many times they tell me I’m smart, funny, beautiful, kind, and deserving of good things, I still feel like crap. Low self-esteem is stubborn as hell.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to pull yourself out of this kind of funk – and they’re surprisingly quick and easy, as well as scientifically proven. So if you’re right there with me in the valley of despair, try one (or all) of these, and see if you don’t start to feel a little sunnier…
1. Ditch the empty affirmations
Psychologist Guy Winch writes in Psychology Today, “You can tell yourself you’re great but if you don’t really believe it, your mind will reject the affirmation and make you feel worse as a result. Affirmations only work when they fall within the range of believability, and for people with low self-esteem, they usually don’t.”
2. Keep a gratitude journal
It’s easy to forget about the good things in your life when you’re down in the dumps. Writing them down every day is a tangible reminder that you have a lot to be thankful for – and that will help you feel better about yourself, as well as life in general.
3. Go for a run
Studies have shown again and again that exercise is like a magic bullet for your mood. Working out for as little as 20 minutes has been shown to improve your state of mind for 12 hours afterward. So get out there and break a sweat.
4. Pose like a superhero
Psychologist Amy Cuddy says taking a Wonder Woman stance – hands on hips, shoulders squared off, feet planted firmly on the ground – can make you feel 40 per cent more powerful. Sure, it sounds silly, but what have you got to lose?
5. Shake it off
Another one for the “sounds ridiculous, why not try it?” category: motivational speaker Tony Robbins recommends pumping yourself up by shaking out your body, clenching your fists, rocking back and forth, and breathing deeply in and out. Then clap your hands and shout the word “yes!” a few times. Feel better? Robbins says you will.
6. Dab on some perfume
Our sense of smell is extremely powerful; ever notice how a certain scent can transport you back to a vivid memory of your past? So it’s not surprising that a scientific study actually showed that wearing perfume made women feel more confident in a variety of social situations. Treat yourself to some yummy scented shower gel and shampoo while you’re at it, and you’ll start your day feeling great.
7. Do something nice for someone
As Anne Lamott, one of my most-loved authors, writes – “if you want to have loving feelings today, do loving things.” And that includes having loving feelings toward yourself. So bring a friend flowers for no reason. Bake cookies for your office-mates. Pick up litter in the park. Take a shelter dog for a walk. If all else fails, cuddle your cat.
8. Wear bright lipstick
My friend Mollie wore the most amazing shades of lipstick all through cancer treatment, even when she’d lost her hair and was in terrible pain. Deep reds, bright pinks, and vivid plums. Ever since she died last year, when I’m feeling crappy, I put on my brightest lipstick. For Mollie. She was right – it does help you feel better.
9. Sit up straight
Researchers have found that people who practice good posture are more confident than those who slump and slouch. So, chin up, shoulders back, and sit up straight! That’s more like it.
10. Learn to take a compliment
Psychologist Guy Winch, again in Psychology Today, says people with low self-esteem are resistant to compliments, but that we have to learn to accept them. “Hard as it might feel to do so, especially at first, being able to receive compliments is very important for those seeking to nourish their self-esteem.”
11. Be where you are
The Buddhist practice of mindful meditation has been shown to help people better accept themselves. All you have to do is be still, focus on your breathing, and quiet your mind. When your thoughts start racing, dismiss them. Watch them come and go like waves in the ocean. Do this for fifteen minutes and then see if you don’t feel a little better about yourself.
12. Have a cup of coffee
Your morning cup of joe doesn’t just wake you up. Research shows that 100 milligrams of caffeine increases energy and confidence, along with alertness.
13. Silence your inner critic
If you regularly engage in negative self-talk, knock it off. You wouldn’t say that shit to a friend, so why would you say it to yourself?
Images via nbc.com, tumblr.com, giphy.com, youtube.com, gifsoup.com, reactiongifs.com.
Comment: Do you struggle with low self-esteem?
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