4 Ways To Improve Your Self-Esteem, According To Science
Say hello to a happier, more confident you.
It’s hard to be a woman today and not experience at least the odd uncomfortable pang of self-loathing.
Our constant exposure to digitally-altered perfection can seriously distort our self-perception; and the increasing demands of jobs where we’re expected to be on email 24/7 and responding to text messages within milliseconds can make us feel like total letdowns when we face the fact most of us just want to ignore our to-do lists and curl up in sweats on the couch eating day-old pizza.
Even when we know those Insta-perfect lives on our news feeds aren’t real, we’re not immune to the sting of failure we feel admiring a friend’s Pinterest-worthy pics of their stylish apartment while sitting on a couch stained with our kids’ spaghetti or boozy parties of yesteryear.
The good news though, is even when you’re at peak levels of self-flagellation, it’s completely possible to turn the feeling around. In fact, according to science, if you practice the following techniques, you’ll experience a level of self-confidence and self-love even a Valencia-filtered flatlay couldn’t compare to…
1. Train your brain
According to research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, learning a new language or improving your maths skills can improve your life satisfaction levels to the same extent as receiving a nice pay rise.
They also found people who signed up to adult learning courses were less likely to be depressed. So get yourself to your local community center and put your name down for that cross-stitching class you’ve always wanted to try.
2. Get moving
There’s no denying the feelgood benefits of exercise. Studies have shown not only does it boost our physical health, but our mental health gets a serious boost every time we work out, too. People who commit to sweating it out on the reg tend to report higher levels of happiness and self-confidence; not just because working out makes us look good, but because of the endorphins it sends flooding through our bodies, which are responsible for that post-workout high.
And the good news is, simply carving out 30 minutes at a time, just three times a week, is enough to start reaping the rewards.
3. Assume the ‘power pose’
Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy noticed the most actively outspoken and involved students in her lectures tended to display ‘power poses’ – sitting or standing in open positions which typically involved outstretched arms and heads held high to project dominance. To test whether adopting these poses could translate to increased confidence, Cuddy lead a research project in which she asked participants to assume power poses for two minutes.
The results were nothing short of surprising. Directly after holding these positions, participants showed increased levels of the confidence-boosting hormone, testosterone, and decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The takeaway? Before your next nerve-wracking meeting, head into a bathroom stall and silently hold a power pose for two minutes, then strut back out like you’re Beyonce.
4. F*ck it
We’ve been told to swear less since we were kids, and most of us associate cuss words with negativity. But what if we told you letting out a few expletives could actually dramatically increase your self-esteem, and thus, happiness levels? To prove this theory, researchers from Keele University asked study participants to plunge their hands in ice water and told half that they could repeat a curse word of their choice during the exercise, while the others were asked to deal with their pain without swearing. Unsurprisingly, the cursing group overcame both physical and emotional discomfort, lasting significantly longer than the non-swearers in the ice water, with the expletives acting as a useful distractor while also providing a catalyst for nullifying negative emotions.
Of course, next time your boss makes you feel crappy about yourself, you should probably hold back from directly telling them to “Fuck off”, but heading to an empty meeting room or going for a quick walk with a trusted colleague afterwards and dropping a few F-bombs could dramatically improve your outlook.
Images via tumblr.com and giphy.com.
Comment: What always makes you feel better about yourself when you’re feeling down in the dumps?