Five Ways to Boost Confidence and Reduce Anxiety

Self-doubt and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. If you find that you avoid certain situations or doing things out of fear that you'll make a mistake or embarrass yourself, you're not alone. A lack of confidence is often linked to feeling anxious over what others think of you and it is a common struggle for many people. Anxiety kicks in when your mind tries to protect you by summoning fear over how you'll do in a social setting. These fears can become overblown or exaggerated and they may also have a more powerful hold on you if you have self-confidence issues. The good news is that you can give your confidence a boost while also easing anxiety by doing the following things.

1) Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

When facing your fears, think in terms of baby steps rather than “taking the plunge.” This is a technique used in cognitive-behavioral therapy for helping people build confidence and manage anxiety. While stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a situation that you would normally avoid is important, overdoing it may end up setting you back. Make a list of the types of situations, activities or settings that make you anxious and rank these from least stressful to most stressful. Work your way down the list by starting with the smallest first. If making small talk with another person is mildly stressful, work on that first. This may help you gain confidence and can help you tackle more stressful situations later on, such as speaking in front of a small audience.

2) Make Positive People a Priority

Spending time with negative people can be detrimental to your confidence and may increase anxiety. If you spend time with positive individuals, they can provide you with motivation and support when you're struggling with anxiety. They can also help you feel more confident by believing in you and encouraging you to succeed. When you bring more positivity into your life through the people you choose to be with, their optimism and healthy self-esteem can have a significant impact on you. These people offer great examples of how to face fear-inducing situations with calmness and confidence.

3) Remember That Self-Compassion Is Key

When anxiety takes hold, it's easy to sink into feelings of self-doubt or berate yourself for not being more confident or for being scared. One of the most effective ways to overcome this is by practicing self-compassion. What would you say to a friend who is feeling anxious or fearful? If you would show them compassion and kindness, while also reassuring them, then this is how you should treat yourself. Instead of beating yourself up, be kind and understanding of your struggle. When you're compassionate with yourself about your anxiety, you'll have an easier time calming down and confidently interacting with others.

4) Stand Up Straight

One of the easiest ways to work on improving your confidence and easing anxiety is by simply standing up straight. Your posture can have an effect on how you think of yourself and how you interact with others. In fact, a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology backs up this claim. This study found that sitting or standing up straight rather than slouching was associated with a more confident mindset and more positive thoughts.

5) Focus on a New Interest

Whether you're interested in pursuing a certain hobby or taking a class to learn a new skill, focusing on a new interest is an excellent way to build confidence. Although you might feel some anxiety about it at first, the excitement of trying something new and interesting can help you cope with it more effectively. This is also when your network of positive people comes in handy. If you start to doubt yourself, they can provide you with words of encouragement to keep you going.

While these tips can help you feel more confident and ease anxiety, keep in mind that they take time to produce results. Be patient with yourself while you work on boosting your self-confidence and you'll end up conquering your fears and connecting with others.

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