7 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence

It's easy to overlook the importance of self-confidence on a day-to-day basis. Regarding yourself in a positive way is such an important thing to do not only every single day, but especially when life seems to be putting you down. It's the simple-but-not-easy lesson of life: when things aren't going your way, the only one who can control what happens is you. I think many of us forget that we create our own paths — and all of that starts with what we think of ourselves. Here's what you can do every day to nurture your self-confidence.

1. Exercise more.

We all know how difficult it is to just walk to the gym, let alone actually hop on a treadmill or do core workouts on unwashed gym mats; however, exercising, even a couple times a week, is an extremely important part of positive thinking. Working out (and especially doing cardio exercises) releases endorphins in the brain and creates what's known as a “runner's high,” which happens after a prolonged, hard exercise and creates a high-on-life sensation. This process aids in fighting stress and getting your mind off negative burdens that may be bringing you down.

2. Don’t be harsh on yourself for making mistakes.

Learn and incorporate the powerful tool of self-compassion. When something goes awry, it's a fine line between saying “here’s something I could work on” and completely bashing yourself for messing up. We all have days where it seems as if the whole world is collapsing on us, but sometimes it helps to envision yourself taking a step back from everything and realizing that some of the things that seem to be taking up so much negative mental space are trivial and will not truly matter in the long run. The 5-year rule for stress is especially useful: if you make a mistake, just ask yourself if the outcome of your error will truly have an impact on you in five years. If not, then take a deep breath and remind yourself that mistakes are what help us grow. If it will impact you in five years, this is where self-compassion is handy: wonder without judgment why the mistake occurred in the first place, then think about wishes and hopes you have for yourself and how you might help prevent a similar outcome in the future.

3. It's the little things.

Many times, especially at this age, it seems like people think they should only celebrate when they accomplish big things. If you were to live your life like that, you'd constantly be waiting for the next grand achievement to tell yourself it’s okay to be happy. Therefore, it's vital that you make sure to take into account everything good that happens to you in one day. Maybe someone complimented your hair, held the door open for you or even made the perfect coffee for you. Maybe you woke up early and actually got breakfast before your 8 a.m. class. No matter what it is, feeling happy shouldn't be something that has to be achieved, it should be a natural attitude that bubbles up in you constantly.

4. Let insignificant things go.

On the flip side of letting the little things make you happy, it's also important to let the little negative things go. It's easy to get caught up in the negative attitudes of someone else or let one bad interaction ruin your whole day — whether it's with a friend or a complete stranger who was rude to you for no reason at all. These insignificant details can cast a pessimistic gloom on our days, but we don’t have to let that happen! Mentally compartmentalize things and tell yourself the sour interaction was simply five minutes out of your 24-hour day, which is such a small fraction that it seems pretty irrelevant. So don’t let it be relevant. Also, remember to put other people's lives into perspective: it helps to remind yourself that the person who may have been rude to you could have been having a bad day.

5. Dress to how you’re feeling.

It may seem like a trivial thing to pay attention to how you’re dressed, but I've come to realize it really helps people feel better about themselves. If you have a big test coming up and dress in your favorite t-shirt, you’re bound to feel a bit more confident and ready to kick butt. If you're in the mood to be comfortable and don't want to worry about tight jeans and fancy shirts, then throw on some sweatpants and bask in the loose-clothing glory. It doesn't matter what you're wearing as long as you feel comfortable and happy in your outfit. There are a variety of different outfits I see around campus, so not matter what you decide, wear it with confidence!

6. Try your hardest to be kind.

As Tim McGraw said, “Always stay humble and kind.” These characteristics in a person are super important. If you radiate kindness and positivity, it's bound to come back to you in one form or another. Just think of how much you appreciate it when someone is overly nice to you or goes out of their way to help you out in any given situation. I bet after reading that last sentence, you remembered a specific moment, or you thought of someone who has done that for you. Strive to be that person, it isn’t hard to be kind all the time if you have the right mindset.

7. Be prepared.

It's the worst feeling going into any kind of situation feeling unprepared. It makes you stressed, anxious, forgetful. If you can, try to prepare as much as possible for any type of scenario you know you’re going to encounter. It could be a test, a presentation, an interview or even just a conversation with a friend about something you’ve been nervous to bring up. No matter what it is, you’ll feel more confident if you know how you’re going to handle the situation and you have prepared to dodge any troubles or problems that may come your way. I promise that it will decrease your stress level tremendously.