As humans, we often look to our relationships for affirmation in our self-identity and confirmation of our self-worth. We find validation in being a good friend, a good employee, or a good parent; it’s these daily interactions and positive messages that help us make meaning of the world and our place in it. But the definition of what it means to be “successful” in these roles has changed in light of the pandemic, triggering a widespread loss of confidence among many Americans across all ages.
Every morning, we’re confronted by harrowing headlines that urge us to stay sheltered at home due to public health risks posed by the coronavirus. While we may do our part to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the disease — keeping a watchful eye for the telltale physical symptoms of infection and following the best hygienic practices to prevent illness — too few of us are mindful of the adverse mental health effects that are also taking a toll on our wellbeing.
As the pandemic rages on without an available vaccine yet in circulation, experts are taking note of the mental health concerns that have surfaced in the wake of social distancing. A recent survey published on December 7, 2020 found that nearly 29% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of a depressive order during the week of November 11 to November 23.
As you can see in the graph below, these numbers were steadily increasing earlier this year until mid July when it appeared positive change was underway, but the trend has since shifted back in the upward direction with no signs of slowing down.
The link between low self-esteem and depression is very clear, and although it’s not always easy to tell which came first, a positive feedback loop reinforces both states of mind. Therefore, we should be actively trying to combat the mental health ramifications of coronavirus just as hard as the physical effects. Building self-confidence can make you feel more capable of handling whatever challenges life throws your way and, in turn, more resilient to stress known to impair immune systems — which are more essential now than ever.
Stuck in social isolation, the absence of positive reinforcement typically provided by friends, coworkers, bosses, teachers, and loved ones might have you feeling down about yourself. It’s all too easy to project that negative outlook on the world and live with a “doom and gloom” mentality, but use these five strategies to become a more confident version of you and see what a big impact the change can have on your thought processes.
- Dress for Your Personal Success
When the pandemic first hit at the beginning of the year, many of us relished the ability to bunker down in bed wearing comfortable loungewear. Maybe you worked remotely or had a temporary break from school, but almost overnight, there was no longer a need to wake up early enough in the morning to shower, wash your face, get dressed, and greet the world with a polished appearance.
Staying in your sweats all day might have been nice for a while, but doing so slowly chips away at your confidence overtime. It’s easy to fall into a slump and care less and less about your self-image, until suddenly you look in the mirror and question how many days it’s been since you’ve showered or put on a proper pair of pants.
Even though you might not see your peers face-to-face during the pandemic, make it a point to get up and get dressed everyday to put your best foot forward so you can look and feel more confident. Don’t undermine the powerful truth in “look good, feel good”.
- Experience Exercise-Induced Endorphins
Health and fitness also go hand-in-hand with our perceived sense of self. Tempting as it may be to indulge in junk food, it certainly doesn’t make you feel proud of yourself when staring at the bottom of a potato chip bag. It takes far more effort to follow a clean, nutritious diet, but the payoff is worth it both mentally and physically.
Between nationwide gym closures and the forced cessation of recreational activities that kept many Americans active, a lot of us have succumbed to a more sedentary lifestyle and, unfortunately, likely have the weight gain to show for it. But rather than coming up with excuses for why you can’t work out, get creative and look into the post-COVID fitness trends that can help you stay in shape. You might feel like you have plenty of time to burn off those few extra pounds before anyone notices, but remember it’s your self-perception that matters more than anyone else.
- Conquer the Chatter in Your Mind
In many cases, a loss in confidence can be traced to anxious thoughts that inundate our minds — and there are so many different rabbit holes you can fall into during these unprecedented times, as evidenced in the recent data published below. Concerns regarding your adequacy as a make-shift homeschool teacher, or nervousness about job interviews in the midst of unemployment, invite self-doubt to trickle in.
Look into the confidence-boosting benefits of CBD, start journaling your racing thoughts that come to mind, and make it a point to meditate daily. These are all great strategies to learn how to become the master over your emotions, rather than feeling controlled by them.
- Explore Sources of Fulfillment
Another way you can boost your self-esteem is by living with greater intention. Ask yourself the meaning or purpose behind your actions, and what goal you’re working toward. If you have trouble making meaning out of day-to-day life, then consider volunteering to find greater fulfillment in how you spend your time.
Scrolling on social media certainly doesn’t foster any sense of accomplishment, so try to keep the screen time to a minimum and focus on actively living your life rather than passively observing the lives of others.
- Shake the Common Misconceptions
Finally, there are certain societal narratives that might be standing in the way of your highest potential. Recognize the myths holding you back from becoming the confident individual you aspire to be and remind yourself that you have the strength and courage to weather any storm — even a pandemic unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
Carve out time in your day to implement these ways to become more confident. A positive self-image will foster a positive outlook on life that can help keep your hopes high until we make it through the other side of the COVID crisis.
Kaelee Nelson received her Master degree with an emphasis in Digital Humanities and pursues her career as a writer in San Diego, currently writing for 365businesstips.com. She enjoys informing readers about topics spanning industries such as technology, business, finance, culture, wellness, hospitality, and tourism.