It is no exaggeration to say that the coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another. Even if you were lucky enough to stay healthy, keep your job and remain connected to friends and family, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown will have had an impact on your normal day-to-day routine.
If lockdown has knocked your confidence, you are by no means alone. Here are six tips to help you get your pre-pandemic mojo back.
1. Remember who you are
When you think back on your pre-lockdown self, who do you see? A confident, self-assured person who dazzled in business meetings, entertained friends at social gatherings and traded small talk with everyone from the barista to the company CEO?
You are still that person. Conjure up a time when you felt most confident and at ease with yourself. What environment were you in? What were you doing? Who were you with? Try to identify the factors that contributed to the feeling of empowerment and see if you can recreate them as you gradually ease yourself back to your regular routines.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is a sure-fire way to dent your confidence. This can be a very difficult habit to break, especially with social media giving us no shortage of opportunities to measure ourselves against other people, many of whom we have never even met.
Chances are that your social media usage has escalated over the past three months, and seeing pictures of others seemingly thriving in lockdown can make you doubt your own worth. Perhaps one of your friends has used these last three months to learn a new language, practice yoga every day and bake up a Pinterest-worthy storm, while you have struggled to drag yourself out of bed each morning.
The only way to break the comparison habit is to become aware of it and change your focus. Try to shift your thought patterns to focus on what you already have and how lucky you are. If you still feel a need to compare, measure how far you have come and acknowledge your own successes and achievements.
3. Invest in Yourself
Investing in yourself may be the most profitable investment you will ever make. Developing new skills and expanding your knowledge will help you break free from your limits and boost your confidence. Even making small, positive changes can inspire you to try new things and get out of your comfort zone.
Here are some steps you can take today to invest in yourself:
• Invest in skills that enhance your professional abilities through courses such as The Polished Professional, Leading with Emotional Intelligence or Speak, Pitch and Close.
• Invest in your health by taking regular exercise and eating nourishing food.
• Invest in your creative abilities by pursuing a new hobby such as playing an instrument, painting, gardening or cooking.
4. Stand tall
It may sound deceptively simple, but sitting or standing up straight and developing an awareness of your posture, can give you more confidence. A 2018 study in the USA found that students taking a maths test felt less anxious when they didn’t slouch and instead sat erect in their seats.
Outside the classroom, your posture can help you feel better about yourself and your abilities in high-pressure situations such as interviews or public speaking. Slouching doesn’t just look bad, it can also reduce your lung capacity by almost a third, hamper your thought processes and increase stress levels. Standing tall, no matter what your height, will project confidence, openness and a positive attitude.
There are plenty of exercises that will help you improve your posture, including the tried-and-tested method of walking with a book on your head. You can also practice “power poses” to give your confidence an extra boost. In Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED talk on body language, the social psychologist revealed that just two minutes of various power poses can make a big difference to your emotional state.
5. Use positive affirmations
Thanks to the plethora of self-help books out there, most of us have heard of positive affirmations. If you have never tried them before, the idea of telling yourself how fantastic you are can seem rather peculiar. However, using positive phrases or statements to challenge negative thoughts has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, boost academic achievement and even help us eat more fruit and vegetables.
If you are new to this practice, we would recommend starting with one or two positive affirmations that you repeat to yourself in the morning and throughout the day, whenever you feel the need to. Writing your affirmations down in a journal and practicing them in front of the mirror can make them more powerful and effective.
It is important that the affirmations you choose relate to your own personal values and self-identity. If you need some inspiration, check out these suggestions.
6. Be kind to yourself
Last but not least, cut yourself some slack. Confidence takes time to grow, even under normal circumstances. Don’t put pressure on yourself to bounce back to your ‘old self’ as we emerge from this time of crisis.
It can be tempting to fill up the diary with commitments but allow yourself time to adjust. If you felt that your life was too frenetic before lockdown, it might be helpful to take stock of what activities and commitments really serve you. As life slowly returns to normal, we have a unique opportunity to consider the lessons we have learned about our pace of life and wellbeing.
Make time for rest and recovery, surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and do not be hard on yourself if you find it difficult to get back into a routine,