Learn how to boost your confidence in 50 different ways
In this easy-to-follow book, Wendy Green explains the psychological and lifestyle factors which can affect one's confidence, offering practical advice and a holistic approach to help build confidence levels, including simple lifestyle changes and DIY complementary therapies. Some of the 50 ways to boost confidence today include finding balance through aromatherapy and homeopathy, using positive affirmations, choosing beneficial foods and supplements, and finding helpful organizations and products.
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50 Things You Can Do Today to Boost Your Confidence
By Wendy Green
Summersdale Publishers LtdCopyright © 2013 Wendy Green
All rights reserved.
In this chapter we will consider what confidence is and how it differs from self-esteem, as well as the factors that can affect your confidence.
1. Learn about confidence
What is confidence?
In simple terms, confidence is having a strong belief in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. Being positive about yourself and optimistic about the future are also important aspects of feeling confident. Confidence empowers you to go for what you want in life, while a lack of it can leave you stuck in a rut and frightened of making positive changes.
However, confidence is not about having an over-inflated view of yourself, or about being arrogant and putting other people down to make yourself feel better. When you are truly confident you should feel so comfortable in your own skin that you don't need to show off, or belittle other people to make yourself look good.
What is the difference between self-esteem and confidence?
Self-esteem and confidence are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between the two concepts; self-esteem is how you rate or appraise yourself as a person, whereas confidence is about how much faith you have in your abilities and how you project yourself to others.
What affects confidence?
Your confidence can be affected by a number of things, including your personality, i.e. whether you are an extrovert or introvert, your mental and physical health, and the beliefs you have developed about yourself throughout your life in response to your experiences and relationships at home, at school, at work and in your personal life.
Examples of events and experiences that may have affected your self-confidence include:
* Your upbringing – did your parents encourage you and praise you when you did something well?
* Your experiences at school – were you bullied by your peers or given negative feedback by a teacher?
* Divorce/end of a relationship – when a relationship ends your confidence can take a knock – especially if your partner has left you.
* Bereavement – coping with the loss of a loved one can leave you feeling physically and mentally drained, which in turn chips away at your confidence.
* Physical ill-health – having to deal with illness can sap your energy and your belief in your ability to cope with life's challenges.
* Depression/anxiety – low mood and anxiety are linked to negative thinking, which can have a disastrous effect on your self-confidence.
* Dissatisfaction with the way you look – feeling unhappy about your appearance – for example, if you are overweight or suffer from bad skin – can leave you lacking confidence in all areas of your life.
* Redundancy/unemployment – losing your job can deliver a huge blow to your confidence in your abilities.
* Workplace bullying – being the victim of workplace bullying can take its toll on your performance at work, which can in turn make you feel less confident in your ability to do your job.
* Relocating – this means you have to start afresh – possibly starting a new job and having to make new friends, both of which can challenge even the most confident of people.
* Having a baby – being at home full-time with a baby and all that it can entail, e.g. sleepless nights and social isolation, can dent your self-confidence; juggling a full-time job with parenthood can leave you exhausted, which can also sap your confidence.
* Excessive pressure (stress) – if you feel overwhelmed by too much pressure, your performance and mental and physical health are likely to be negatively affected, all of which can lower your self-confidence.
How can I become more confident?
The good news is that no matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, or how past experiences and relationships have affected you, it is possible to boost your self-confidence.
You can cultivate strong self-confidence by taking good care of your physical and mental health; challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself; identifying and developing your natural talents by setting and achieving realistic goals, and stepping out of your comfort zone. Ensuring you look the part by holding yourself well, watching your body language and making the most of your appearance can also help build your self-confidence. Improving your general wellbeing with techniques from complementary therapies such as the Alexander Technique, aromatherapy and the emotional freedom techniques (EFT) could also have a positive effect on your self-belief. This book offers you practical advice in each of these areas to help you develop genuine, long-lasting self-confidence.
Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
We all have an extroverted and introverted side, but one is usually more dominant than the other.
Extroverts are sociable, talkative, assertive and outgoing, and tend to think out loud and on their feet.
Introverts typically prefer less-stimulating environments, tend to focus on their private thoughts and feelings, listen more than they talk and think before they speak.
Although an extrovert might appear to have a head start in the confidence stakes, it is still possible to be a confident introvert; this book can help you to change how you think and feel and become more assertive to boost your confidence.CHAPTER 2
Be Body Confident
Good physical and psychological health are vital if you want to feel confident. Eating well, taking regular exercise, managing stress and taking steps to ensure you get sufficient good quality sleep will mean that you look and feel great and have boundless energy. Looking and feeling your best will give you strong foundations on which to build unshakeable self-confidence. All of these aspects of health are inter-related; a poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to stress and poor sleep – both of which could affect your confidence negatively. Suffering from stress and poor sleep can make you more likely to crave fatty, sugary, salty, processed foods and less inclined to take regular exercise, which could lead to weight gain and poor health – which again are likely to have a negative impact on self-confidence. We look at the effects of stress and lack of sleep on confidence in more detail in Chapter 3.
Eating well shouldn't be about depriving yourself of your favourite foods, but more about enjoying tasty meals made from wholesome, nutritious ingredients, rather than over-refined and processed foods. At the beginning of this chapter you will find easy-to-follow advice on tweaking your diet to make sure you get all the nutrients you need for a healthy mind and body, while still enjoying what you eat. At the end of the book you will find some delicious wholesome recipes that incorporate these healthy eating guidelines.
As well as improving your physical health and helping you to feel more confident about your body, being physically active reduces stress levels and boosts both mood and energy levels. Often, the best way to make sure you take regular exercise is to find ways to factor it into your everyday life, rather than subscribing to an expensive gym membership that you are unlikely to use; this chapter suggests easy ways to fit more activity into your daily routine.
There are a lot of fad diets around, all promising to give you the perfect body; low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-protein ... the list is endless. However, to ensure you get all the nutrients you need for good health, the best advice is to avoid cutting out any particular food group; low-fat diets have been linked to depression and skin conditions like eczema; low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets have been associated with low energy, constipation, high cholesterol and even kidney damage. Also, such diets are usually impossible to stick to long term and most people regain any weight they have lost when they revert back to their normal eating habits. Not only that, but when you severely restrict your calorie intake your body adapts by slowing down your metabolism, so when you eventually increase your food intake you gain even more weight and find it harder to lose weight in the future.
Instead, aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes all the different food groups to help you manage your weight and enjoy good physical and mental health. This will boost your confidence in general, as well as help you to feel better about your body and appearance.
Processed foods like cakes, biscuits, sweets, white bread, pies, pizzas, crisps and ready meals are generally low in disease-preventing fibre, vitamins and minerals, and contain hidden nasties like sugar, salt, saturated fats, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, colourings and preservatives, which in excess are linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
The key to good nutrition is to go back to basics, which means cutting back on refined, sugary, salty, processed foods and alcohol, and eating more wholesome, unrefined foods.
Aim to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you're full. It is best not to 'ban' any particular food as it is human nature to want what you think you can't have; instead try to eat everything in moderation and to develop a taste for healthier foods, so that you can still satisfy your palate while managing your weight.
If you comfort eat to cope with stress and negative emotions such as anger or hurt, look for ways to express and deal with your feelings, such as talking them through with someone you trust, or writing them down. Identify any underlying issues or problems and seek solutions, so that you start treating food as fuel for your body, rather than a means of escaping from your emotions. Try to eat slowly and focus on the sight, smell, taste and texture of your food. What you are doing is gradually building a healthy relationship with food that will enable you to achieve a healthy weight in the long term.
Reducing your portion sizes is an important part of eating healthily; even if you eat wholesome foods, if you consume too much of them you will gain weight. Try eating from a smaller plate to automatically cut your portion size and trick your brain into thinking you've eaten a lot.
2. Eat fewer refined foods
Refined, processed foods are likely to be low in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and high in sugar, salt, and saturated and trans fats.
* Refined carbohydrates – such as white bread, pastries, sugary drinks and sweets, are digested quickly, causing your blood sugar to rapidly rise and then fall. Low blood sugar leads to mood swings, poor concentration, fatigue and irritability, while excess sugar is linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Choose wholegrain foods instead (see Action 5) and foods low in sugar; you can do this by checking the labels (see below). When cooking and baking you can often cut the amount of sugar by half without spoiling the quality of the finished product.
* Salt – the current recommendation is that adults should eat no more than 6 g daily. Processed foods such as canned soups, frozen pizzas and ready meals often contain added salt; keep the intake of these to a minimum and where possible choose foods low in sodium (salt) by checking the label (see below). Use herbs and spices such as basil, rosemary, mint, garlic and chillies instead of salt when cooking and benefit from the disease-preventing antioxidants they contain, too.
* Saturated fats – otherwise known as hard fats, are mainly found in animal products such as red meat, butter and full-fat dairy foods like cheese and milk, and in processed foods like pies, cakes, biscuits and ready meals A diet high in saturated fat is thought to raise 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); eat these foods sparingly and go for reduced-fat versions whenever possible, making sure you read the labels (see page 24).
* Trans fats – also known as partially hydrogenated fats, are solid fats manufactured from liquid vegetable oils using a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats tend to be used in some margarines and in processed foods like biscuits, pies and cakes to help extend their shelf life. Eating a lot of foods containing trans fats also raises LDL cholesterol levels.
Quick and easy guide to food labels
Ingredients, including additives, have to be listed in descending order of weight, so it's easy to spot the main ones. Some food manufacturers use traffic light colours on the front of their products to help identify if the food has low, medium or high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Green indicates low, amber medium and red high. So the more green lights something has the healthier it is, in terms of fat, sugar and salt levels.
Most food companies will provide nutritional information including the calories and grams of sugars, fats and salt in a serving of food, and how this measures up as a percentage of your guideline daily amounts (GDA). These are based on the energy and nutrient requirements of an average adult. One downside is that the figures given are often for smaller servings than most people eat. Also, people's dietary needs vary depending on their age, gender and activity level. However, the information can help you to make sensible food choices. As a general guide, 5 per cent or less of your GDA is low, whilst 20 per cent or more is high.
3. Avoid too much alcohol
Avoid the temptation to drink too much to hide a lack of confidence. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol depletes B vitamins, calcium and magnesium – the very nutrients needed for a positive, confident outlook on life. Drinking alcohol to steady your nerves before a big event is definitely something to avoid; you could lose your inhibitions and end up saying or doing something you might regret later. Alcohol is also addictive and drinking to excess is linked to liver and heart disease, a number of cancers and diabetes, so stick to the recommended maximum weekly alcohol intake of 14 units for a woman and 21 units for a man. One unit roughly equates to one small (125 ml) glass of wine, half a pint of lager or bitter, one small glass of sherry or port, or one single measure of spirits. You should also aim to have at least two alcohol-free days a week. To find out more visit www.drinkaware.co.uk.
Enjoy a glass of red wine
A growing body of research suggests that drinking a glass of red wine a few times per week benefits health. The combination of alcohol and plant chemicals called procyanidins is thought to protect against atherosclerosis (furring up of the arteries) and blood clots, which are both major causes of heart disease and stroke. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Merlot and Pinot Noir are thought to be the most beneficial.
4. Cut down on caffeine
When consumed in moderation, caffeine boosts concentration and alertness, and may cut the risk of dementia. Drinks and foods that contain caffeine, i.e. coffee, tea, cola and chocolate, also provide beneficial antioxidants; however, heavy caffeine consumption has been linked to irritability, nervousness, restlessness and insomnia, none of which are conducive to feeling confident. So if you consume a lot of caffeine-containing drinks and foods, it may be worth cutting down.
The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea or coffee can vary quite a lot depending on the brand, how much tea or coffee is used, how long it's left to brew and, of course, the size of the cup or portion. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but experts suggest a daily limit of 300 mg; as a rough guide a cup of tea contains around 50 mg, whereas a cup of ground coffee contains around 100 mg; 50 g of dark chocolate contains up to 50 mg and the same amount of milk chocolate contains around 25 mg. Good alternatives to regular tea and coffee include decaffeinated versions, redbush (rooibos) tea, herbal teas and coffee substitutes made from dandelion (e.g. Symington's Dandelion Coffee) or chicory (e.g. Prewett's Instant Chicory). Always wean yourself off caffeine gradually to prevent withdrawal symptoms, which can include headaches and anxiety.
5. Eat more wholesome foods
* Wholegrain carbohydrates – such as wholemeal or granary bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, porridge oats and barley. The bran which encases wholegrains means they take longer to digest, so the glucose they provide is released slowly for sustained energy, which aids weight management and helps prevent mood swings. They also provide B vitamins for a healthy nervous system.
* Beans, peas and lentils – are good sources of protein, slow-release carbohydrate, soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamins and minerals. A serving counts as one portion of vegetables.
Excerpted from 50 Things You Can Do Today to Boost Your Confidence by Wendy Green. Copyright © 2013 Wendy Green. Excerpted by permission of Summersdale Publishers Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Author's Note 9
Foreword Simone Ryder, Founder of SWIB (Supporting Women in Business), Professional Coach, Author and Trainer in Confidence and Self-Empowerment 11
Chapter 1 About Confidence 15
1 Learn about confidence
Chapter 2 Be Body Confident 20
2 Eat fewer refined foods
3 Avoid too much alcohol
4 Cut down on caffeine
5 Eat more wholesome foods
6 Learn about key vitamins and minerals for good health
7 Get the exercise habit
Chapter 3 Control Stress for Strong Self-Confidence 38
8 Simplify your life
9 Take control of your spending
10 Cut work-related pressures
11 Change your attitude towards a stressful situation
12 Focus on the present
13 Be mindful in everyday life
14 Breathe deeply
15 Practise colour breathing
16 Visualise a relaxing retreat
17 Use a mantra
18 Relax your muscles
19 Sleep soundly
Chapter 4 Think Yourself Confident 63
20 Avoid comparing yourself with others
21 Challenge your confidence-sapping thoughts
Chapter 5 Exude Confidence 69
22 Adopt confident body language
23 Find your confident 'chocolate voice'
24 Choose your words carefully
25 Learn the rules of assertion
Chapter 6 Identify and Develop Your Strengths and Talents 77
26 Identify and play to your strengths
27 Recognise and use your talents
Chapter 7 Step Out of Your Comfort Zone 83
28 Discover the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone
29 Be prepared to take a risk
30 Project past positive emotions
Chapter 8 Get Set for Success 87
31 Acknowledge past successes
32 Choose goals that excite and inspire you
33 Plan to succeed
34 Identify your success habits
35 Overcome obstacles
36 Create and use positive affirmations
Chapter 9 Look the Part 100
37 Get glowing skin
38 Have heavenly hair
39 Care for your hands and nails
40 Style yourself confident
Chapter 10 Try Confidence-Boosting DIY Complementary Therapies 110
41 Perfect your posture with the Alexander Technique
42 Use aroma power
43 Enjoy a mood-lifting massage
44 Tap into emotional freedom techniques (EFT)
45 Try flower power
46 Get help from homeopathy
47 Try confidence-boosting herbal supplements
Chapter 11 Be Confident in Real-Life Situations 131
48 Speak in public confidently
49 Perform well at a job interview
50 Feel at ease on a date
Jargon Buster 144
Useful Products 146
Helpful Books 150