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How to Be Confident and Reduce Stress in 2 Minutes Per Day

How to Be Confident and Reduce Stress in 2 Minutes Per Day

There is a simple strategy that you can use to reduce anxiety, improve your ability to deal with stress, and boost your confidence.

The best part? It works immediately and only takes two minutes to do.

Here’s the deal…

Your Hormones and Your Confidence

Recent research coming out of Harvard University, The University of Oregon, The University of Texas and many other places is revealing that powerful and effective leaders not only share similar mindsets, but also similar hormone levels. More specifically, powerful leaders tend to have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol.

Higher levels of testosterone (in both men and women) lead to increased feelings of confidence. Meanwhile, lower levels of cortisol lead to decreased anxiety and an improved ability to deal with stress.

Here’s what that means: if you enjoy these hormone levels, then you are biologically primed to be more assertive, confident, and relaxed. At the same time, you will be less reactive to stress and more likely to handle pressure situations well. In other words, the correct hormone levels can make you feel more confident and less stressed.

Sounds good, right?

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What is particularly important about testosterone and cortisol is that your levels of each hormone can change rapidly depending on the social, physical, and environmental cues that surround you.

What does this have to do with feeling more confident?

Well, it turns out that one of the physical cues that impacts these two hormones is body language. And if you understand how to improve your body language, then you can increase your testosterone, decrease your cortisol, and “magically” feel more confident and risk tolerant.

Let’s talk about the link between body language and confidence…

Body Language: The “Power Poses”

Amy Cuddy is a researcher at Harvard University who studies body language and the impact it has on your hormones.

Cuddy and her team have classified different body positions as “high power” or “low power” poses. In general, the high power poses are open and relaxed while the low power poses are closed and guarded.

Below is an image showing the different types of power poses.

body-language-power-poses
    High Power body language is open and relaxed. Low Power body language is closed and guarded.

    Cuddy and her research team studied the impact of high power and low power poses by conducting a research study on 42 students. (Original article available here.)

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    Here’s how the study went down…

    • First, a saliva sample was taken from each subject and their testosterone and cortisol levels were measured.
    • Second, the subject was asked to sit in either a high power pose or a low power pose for two minutes.
    • Third, a second sample of saliva was taken from each subject and their testosterone and cortisol levels were measured again.

    When the researchers looked at the results, they were stunned by the impact that body language had on the hormones within the body. High power poses increased testosterone by 20 percent and decreased cortisol levels by 25 percent.

    Here’s a graph showing the results…

    testosterone-cortisol-power-poses
      High power poses increased testosterone levels by 20% (which boosts confidence) while simultaneously decreasing cortisol levels by 25% (which reduces anxiety).

      This brings us to the most important question…

      How can you make this actionable in your life?

      Stand Like This for 2 Minutes Per Day

      wonder-woman-power-pose-body-language
        From Left to Right: Lynda Carter poses as Wonder Woman (Image courtesy of ABC TV and Amazon Archives). Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF stands in a high power pose (Image courtesy of Amy Cuddy). Beyonce strikes a high power pose during a performance (Image courtesy of Getty Images).

        The most well–known and versatile high power pose is nicknamed “The Wonder Woman” pose. You simple stand tall with your chest out and your hands on your hips. The images above show powerful women like Christine Lagarde and Beyonce in classic “Wonder Woman” pose.

        Just to be clear: despite the nickname and the photos, the impact of these poses is just as relevant to men as it is to women.

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        Making This Work in Real Life

        If you’re aware of it, body language is easy to adjust throughout your day.

        But if you’re anything like me, you’ll get busy with other tasks and completely forget to check your body language. Because of this, I’ve found it most useful to insert a high power pose into my morning routine for 2 or 3 minutes and then move on with the rest of my life.

        Here’s a pattern that I have been playing with recently…

        Each morning, I’ll wake up and stand in a high power pose for two minutes. While I’m doing that, I’ll close my eyes, breathe in deeply for a count of 3, hold for 1, and then breathe out fully for a count of 5. In this way, I combine breathing exercises, meditation, and power poses for a relaxing and confidence–boosting start to the day.

        Plus, it only takes 120 seconds. It’s kind of hard to say you don’t have time for it.

        For more ideas on how to improve your morning routine, read this: 8 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine

        What You Should Do Now

        “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
        — Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity

        Just to be clear: I don’t believe that body language is the end–all and be–all of becoming more confident.

        That said, it is pretty clear that confidence is a two–way street that involves both your mind and body. Sure, your personality and your emotional state will impact your confidence levels, but it’s obvious that assuming better body language, taking up space, and expanding your physical presence can play an important role as well.

        Most importantly, you now have another tool in your toolbox to use whenever you need it.

        If you’re feeling stressed a few minutes before your next presentation, interview, or meeting — take a moment to adjust your posture and stand in a powerful position. Put your hands on your hips, keep your chin up, and your chest out. Doing this for just two minutes will raise your testosterone and increase your confidence, while also decreasing your cortisol and improving your ability to handle stress.

        Your behaviors and emotions are firmly tied. The most powerful leaders don’t merely think a certain way, they carry themselves a certain way. You should do the same.

        Watch Amy Cuddy’s 20–Minute TED Talk

        Want more? You can watch Amy Cuddy talk about her research and the impact of body language in her 20–minute TED Talk. It’s well worth the time.

         This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

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        Featured photo credit: Nathan Rupert via flickr.com

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        James Clear

        James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits. He shares self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

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        Last Updated on October 14, 2020

        Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

        Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

        Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

        “Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

        It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

        You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

        Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

        Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

        Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

        1. Make a Gratitude List

        In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

        Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

        Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

        What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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        The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

        Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

        2. Write in a Journal

        Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

        All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

        Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

        However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

        3. Meditate

        Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

        Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

        Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

        Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

        Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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        Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

        Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

        4. Do Child’s Pose

        Yoga Outlet says:

        “Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

        When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

        It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

        To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

        Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

           

          Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

          5. Try Positive Self-Talk

          Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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          When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

          Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

          When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

          When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

          Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

          6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

          Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

          You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

          It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

          Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

          If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

          7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

          “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

          If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

          You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

          When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

          If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

          Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

          Final Thoughts

          If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

          Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

          You can invest in yourself via self-care.

          You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

          More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

          Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

          Reference

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