The idea of loving yourself might sound a little cheesy, but hey, it’s important.
“Self-love means having a high regard for your own happiness and well-being,” says Brian Wind, PhD, the chief clinical officer of JourneyPure, an addiction treatment center with locations around the country. “Self-love can influence how you handle the challenges you face in different aspects of your life, your overall happiness, and your mental and physical health.”
And FYI: “Self-love is really about self-worth,” says Naomi Torres-Mackie, PhD, head of research at The Mental Health Coalition, and a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Reminding yourself that you're enough is key.”
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To that end, here are 17 awesome ways to make you feel allll the self-love—and then some.
1. Recite mantras.
Also known as a mindful self-compassion exercise, mantras help you approach each day with some extra TLC—for yourself. “People can use positive self-talk and mindfulness practices with self-compassion to reduce perceived anxiety and improve confidence and well-being,” says Alan Chu, PhD, CMPC, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. If you feel anxious, try “everyone feels this way sometimes" and “may I be gentle and understanding with myself.”
2. Pursue a hobby that makes you feel good.
Sorry, Instagram. If you’re looking to increase self-confidence, experts say it’s important to fill your calendar with activities that you (a) enjoy and (b) are good at. “Pleasure for pleasure’s sake is great, but is unlikely to bolster your confidence," says Amita K. Patel, LCSW, a New York-based licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma and resilience.
As Patel puts it, this is the reason Candy Crush may feel Oh ~ So ~ Good in the moment but doesn't’ exactly give you a self-esteem lift when you put your phone down. “The key to building confidence is to engage in an activity that combines both pleasure and mastery,” she says.
3. Turn to an activity you loved as a kid.
"Pick up an activity you used to enjoy, like a childhood hobby,” says Wind. “Returning to something familiar, utilizing a skill you already have, increases your self-confidence.” How about picking up your tennis racket or taking a stab at creative writing again?
4. Do something you’ve never tried before.
“Doing something that's outside of your comfort zone shows you that you are tougher than you think,” says Torres-Mackie. This could be something as simple as wearing mismatched earrings, or speaking up in a meeting if you’re usually the last to talk, offers Torres-Mackie. You could also try a tutorial on something totally outside of your wheelhouse (Swedish lessons on Rosetta Stone, anyone?) or join an online writers workshop. "These things help you trust yourself and who you are,” she adds.
5. Bring on the bass.
Music, that is. Listening to tunes with more bass could boost your feelings of power and self-confidence, per a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Bring on the power playlist!
6. Use all your senses.
Patel is a fan of a research-backed positive psychology exercise in which you scan through all five senses to halt negative thinking or invasive worries in their tracks. “Slow down and notice the sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and sensations you're experiencing in any moment," she says. "By consciously choosing where to give your attention, you’ll train your brain to stop replaying old stories that only keep you down.”
7. Learn something.
“Whether it be completing a college degree, a specialist certification, or training to become a yoga instructor, research shows that women’s empowerment and self-esteem are directly linked to education and income,” says Jenna Liphart Rhoads PhD, RN, a nurse, educator, and writer for NurseTogether. “In one study, the researchers found that education directly boosted women’s feelings of empowerment, which also increased their earning potential and subsequently, their self-esteem.”
8. Do more of the everyday things you’re good at.
“It doesn't matter what they are, and it doesn't need to be in a professional space," Torres-Mackie says. If you're good at yoga, pull up a flow on YouTube. If you're a good driver, then drive more. "Research shows that self-efficacy (the belief that you are good at something) and self-worth are linked, and the more you do things—small or big—that you are good at, the better you'll feel about yourself.” Even quotidian tasks can spike your confidence, so don't overlook the obvious!
9. Start a self-love journal.
“Document one thing you're grateful for each day,” says Chu. Better yet, read your entries aloud to yourself after jotting them down to really make 'em sink in. You can also return to this list when you're feeling especially low.
10. Spend a few minutes thinking about a time you ~crushed~ a goal.
Aced a course? Nailed throwing a surprise birthday party for a loved one? Volunteered with an organization near and dear to you? Reflect on it.
“One of the most powerful ways to increase your self-confidence is to remember a time in your life when you accomplished something challenging, and allow yourself to truly feel the emotions of that accomplishment,” says Jake Rubin, a hypnotherapist and founder of MamaZen, a stress-relief and meditation app for moms.
Many studies link a meditation practice to improving anxiety and depression. And now that we have countless apps, Zen YouTube tutorials, and a new Netflix series from Headspace, it’s never been easier to get started. (Related: 7 Meditation Tips For People Who've Never Meditated In Their Lives)
12. Talk to the mirror.
“Look in the mirror every morning and list out loud five things you love about yourself," says Liphart Rhoads. The awkwardness will fade, promise! A few examples from Liphart Rhoads to get you started:
- “I love how I wake up on time every morning.”
- “I love that I can make the perfect cup of coffee.”
- “I love that my legs are strong and can carry my kids up the stairs.”
- “I love my ability to find thoughtful gifts for my friends.”
13. Stick to the facts.
“The jump from ‘I lost my job’ to ‘I’m a loser’ not only damages your self-confidence now but impacts the choices you make in the future," says Patel. To avoid a spiral, stick to the facts. "I suck" is an opinion. But "my company was downsizing" might be an objective truth.
14. Try something that makes you feel confident on the outside.
When you look good, you feel good. “This can be as simple as putting on lipstick, wearing your favorite color, or spending five extra minutes to do your hair,” offers Liphart Rhoads. “Taking a few extra minutes to make yourself feel put together can help quickly boost confidence.”
15. Make your body language bigger.
If you haven’t watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on “power posing” to boost your self-confidence, let this be your moment to stop doomscrolling and check it out RN. The evolving study of body language puts the adage “fake it ‘till you make it to work”—if you want to feel more confident throughout your day, take up space, straighten your posture, and gesture as if you already are. Even if you're just on a Zoom call.
16. Phone a friend.
Simply draft a short message explaining something you admire or appreciate about a pal of yours, and fire away. Then, do it for two more friends.
“Whether or not you get a compliment back or just a ‘thank you!’ doesn’t matter," Rubin says. "Giving a genuine compliment requires us to look for the good in others, and by doing so, we also start to see the good in ourselves. It helps us realize that we’re all on a journey and that each of us has value to share with the world.”
17. Treat yourself like you treat your friends.
On that note, think of how you would describe a friend. Kind? Funny? Smart? And how would they describe you? We're often much nicer to those around us than we are to ourselves, so try seeing yourself through the eyes of a loved one. They love you for a reason!
Perri is a New York City-born-and-based writer; she holds a bachelor's in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now the Natural Gourmet Center at Institute Of Culinary Education. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Men's Journal, Rolling Stone, Oprah Daily, Insider.com, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, and more. She's probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she'll never turn down a bloody mary. Learn more at VeganWhenSober.com.