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Last Updated on May 13, 2020

3 Reasons Why Mental Health Is So Important

3 Reasons Why Mental Health Is So Important

Mental health matters. Taking care of our mental health aids in our resilience and recovery from anything that happens.

Anyone can have a bad day, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad life. How we respond to it and take care of our mental health are what’s important.

Mental health is important at every stage of our lives. It encompasses our overall wellbeing and affects our lives in many ways.

Why Is Mental Health Important?

Research shows that one in five adults in America – 43.8 million people – experience mental illness, which is 18.5% of our total population.[1] This means that mental health issues frequent our population and affect everything we do.

According to HealthyPeople.gov, “neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States.”[2] Left untreated, mental illness creates widespread disability. It stops us from showing up to each day, stifles our abilities, and slows our pace.

Unfortunately, suicide rates rise when mental health is neglected. Mental health is important because it affects everything. It affects our ability to cope, adapt, and solve problems. It also affects our ability to be happy, productive, and well adjusted.

Mental health is a topic that gets stigmatized so often in our society. If someone is having a mental health issue, they are less likely to get help because of that stigma and shame.

But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The wirings of your brain are not your fault. Yet, we act like it is our fault and discount its importance.

Mental illness also gets misunderstood by those who have never experienced it. It becomes up to us to advocate for our needs and educate others about our issues.

We become experts of “lived experience.”

There is a spectrum of how we experience things. We may sometimes lose control but regain it overall. Or we may experience the extremes of high and low emotions and not be able to cope. We may fall somewhere in between.

Things unravel when left untreated. But that doesn’t mean that it becomes too late. Anything’s possible. When we remember that, we give ourselves a fighting chance again.

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There are three reasons why mental health is so important.

1. Mental Health Affects Physical Health

If someone had cancer, we would not blame them for this disease in their bodies. So why do we place stigma and blame on mental health issues in the brain?

Mental illness matters just as much as any disease, and it can take one’s life as easily as any other.

Depression, for example, can lead to suicidal ideations and if untreated, suicidal attempts. We are not balanced people if we only focus on physical health.

The mind and the body are connected. Many mental ailments cause stress, which lowers the immune system. This means more frequent sickness and inability to cope.

Stress and anxiety can take a toll on our physical health. According to WebMD, “worry causes the body to release stress hormones that speed up your heart rate and breathing, raise your blood sugar, and send more blood to your arms and legs. Over time, this can affect your heart, blood vessels, muscles, and other systems.”[3]

When stress infiltrates our body, we start to shut down. How we cope with stress is everything. Untreated mental health issues can lead to further falling apart.

Many people turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, affecting their overall health and stability. When they don’t treat themselves right, it becomes a cycle of destructive behavior. This affects their physical wellbeing and can continue to snowball.

One’s stress affects one’s physical wellbeing and ability to take care of themselves, and this may cause destructive patterns.

When we reach this point, we sometimes only then learn that mental health is important. We must not ignore it, or other areas of our lives may suffer.

2. End Stigma and Shame to Lead Better Lives

It’s important to talk about mental health, so others can also come forward about it

Psych Central discusses how when we feel ashamed of ourselves, it is because we perceive we are broken or not normal. It affects our ability to cope when we think of ourselves so lowly.[4]

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Part of the process of healing is turning those feelings around. Our imperfections do not mean a lack of worth. When we realize that, we can also help others turn these feelings around and accept themselves.

Stigma begets shame. Shame begets destructive behaviors. Destructive behaviors beget a deterioration of the self.

Stigma spreads when we do not talk about mental health and its importance.

When it comes down to it, those who are mentally ill must need treatment. But without awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding their condition, they won’t feel comfortable reaching out to somebody for help. This enforces stigma and encourages more struggle and shame.

When we don’t get to say something, we give it more power.

In “Name It to Tame It”, a common exercise about emotions, we take the power of emotion away by naming it. Without talking about our emotions, they become more powerful and get more hold over us and others’ lives.

When we talk to each other, the problem becomes smaller with less hold over our lives. We can free each other by not being ashamed of mental health ourselves.

When we become authentic, we reclaim power over our lives. By denying the existence and importance of mental health, we deny ourselves. We lose our ability to solve problems and find solutions in our daily lives.

Without shame though however, we can say “I am not my mental illness. I am more than it. I am not afraid to talk about it because it is not my fault.”

When we do this, we empower ourselves and the world. We learn to listen to our triggers and warning signs so that we do not spiral, and we show greater compassion towards others experiencing it. This makes a more connected world overall.

“One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you went through, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” -Unknown

When we help ourselves, we also help others. We can pay attention to the world and make it a kinder, more loving place. We can determine what problems need to be solved by acknowledging our own, and we can share our stories in making that happen. We take away the shame.

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3. Mental Health Affects Everything

Our mental health affects how we cope with life. Lack of treatment leads to hopelessness and sadness, worthlessness, feeling guilty, anxiety and worry, fear, and loss of control.

Our relationships may suffer. Our performance in any situation such as school or work may decline. Withdrawal and isolation may happen.

We may also lose interest in things we once enjoyed. Task completion and time management may fall apart. It may also become difficult for us to concentrate, or one may have rumination and focus on cleaning or organizing.

Our relationship with food may change. We may have ups and downs, and racing thoughts can happen more often.

Life may become overwhelming. If we are having severe mental health issues, we may start to lose touch with reality and even hear voices.

Self-harm may happen. Destructive patterns such as alcohol and drug use may strike, and suicidal ideations may be the final result. Overall, things will fall apart if we don’t take mental health seriously.

If you experience any of these issues, it’s time to reach out for help.

Mental health issues are important. It’s important to learn and care about them because if we don’t, all the aforementioned things could happen. We can’t function if we’re not doing well.

But when we turn this around and have good mental health, many good things can happen:

  • We learn to cope again.
  • We become healthy in all aspects.
  • Our relationships no longer suffer.
  • We find meaning in our day to day lives.
  • We become more involved in our community.
  • We are more productive at school or at work.
  • We can be the person we are meant to be.

When we feel better, we do better.

Mental health affects everything. It affects our nature and how we interact with the world and ourselves.

Without good mental health, we are susceptible to not knowing our full worth and struggling with things that are beyond our control. When we ignore mental health, we ignore ourselves.

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We must value our health and wellness as much as we value anything, if not more. We must learn that we are good enough – that we are worthy of compassion and that others are too.

This leads us to have higher standards. It helps us feel sad if we want to feel sad, accepting our state of mind. And it also helps us do something about it.

We don’t have to wait to feel better – we can feel better today simply by acknowledging our struggles as real and worth paying compassionate attention towards.

We don’t need to solve every problem, but we can ask for help if things get too much. Then and only then do we gain some sense of control again over our lives.

Final Thoughts

We all deserve to have peace of mind. Mental health is important because we deserve that.

If we only knew how worthwhile we were, we could take over the world. It’s our own limiting thoughts that hold us back, as we think that we are not normal or broken or not worthwhile.

The truth is that the mind can lie. It can hold us back. And yet it is also the source of everything good we experience.

It doesn’t make anyone less of a person for experiencing mental health issues. When we value mental health, we lead better lives. It doesn’t mean everything will be better overnight, but we can learn how to value ourselves so we can improve over time.

Mental health is as important as physical health. We must end the stigma because mental health affects everything. When we remember that, we can turn it all around. And it’s never too late to do exactly that.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Good luck.

Tips on Improving Your Mental Health

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Alliance on Mental Illness: Mental Health By the Numbers
[2] HealthyPeople.gov: Mental Health and Mental Disorders
[3] WebMD: How Worry Affects Your Body
[4] Pysch Central: When You Feel Shame About Your Mental Illness

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

When you learn how to be confident, you can use it in your everyday life to tackle all of your goals and challenges. However, not many people realize that learning how to gain self-confidence is like building a muscle—it grows in response to the level of performance required of it.

Here I will give you 51 proven ways to overcome a lack of self-confidence and achieve more.

1. Learn Something New

Sign up for that evening class and enjoy it. Alternatively, read a book (or take an online course) on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about.

Learning new things stretches your abilities, keeps your mind active, and most definitely improves your confidence in your ability to do new things.

2. Ask Your Partner or a Friend What You Can Do For Them

This can be something as easy as helping them with a chore they don’t like or have little time for. Through helping them, you’ll find that you feel better about yourself.

3. Hit the Gym

The physiological effects of going to the gym will leave you feeling great.

Countless studies have shown that regular workouts at the gym can boost not only your sense of well-being, but can increase your self-esteem, too[1].

4. Go to a Networking Event

Rather than being nervous about your own stuff, focus on how to help others. Instead of going along with the aim of trying to sell yourself to others, why not change your approach and simply go along to see how you can help the people you meet?

By doing this, you’ll come across as calm, confident, and someone that people will want to turn to again and again.

5. Get Clear on the Things That Matter to You

If these things are not in your life, you’ll need to bring them in.

For example, if your daily work routine is currently as dull as dishwater—but you’d like it to be fun—then do something about it. Turn data entry into personal speed contests, paper filing into “screen-free” time, and interactions with your colleagues into enjoyable conversations.

6. Remove Negativity From Your Life

Write a list of the things you’re tolerating and putting up with in your life, then write down how you can remove, minimize, or diminish each one.

I personally like to do this with pen and paper as it feels just a little more real and definite than on screen. It’s also a good idea to put the priority items at the top of your list, so you can begin resolving these first.

7. Celebrate Your Big and Small Wins

Look at the big or small goals you’ve completed, and give yourself credit for your part in it.

Recognizing your achievements is not egotistical, it’s healthy.

8. Converse With New People

Go and have a conversation with someone you don’t know. By doing this, you may be pleasantly surprised by what—or who—you’ll discover.

You can also extend this trait by breaking outside of your normal social situations at your workplace. This will do wonders when learning how to be confident.

9. Do Something You Would Normally Say No to

Next time you talk yourself out of doing something (a party invite, a challenging project, etc.), go and do it anyway. This is a great way to boost personal development.

10. Do One Thing Each Day That Makes You Smile

This could be something as simple as sending a thank you email to a colleague that has been helpful to you, or leaving a surprise present for your partner that they’ll discover when they wake up.

Life shouldn’t be drudgery, and we all need to make the effort to keep it light, loving, and fun.

11. Give Yourself Good Advice

Look for the patterns of thought that take you to a place where you start second-guessing or overthinking.

Now imagine that your best friend went through exactly the same thought process and ended up holding themselves back—what would you want to say to them?

This is known as Soloman’s Paradox—we’re often quite good at solving others’ problems but not our own. Challenge this and take your own good advice next time[2].

12. Ask Someone on a Date

If you’re single and have met someone that you’re definitely attracted to—go ahead and ask them out.

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Even if they turn you down, it will help you learn how to be confident through the fact that you were decisive and made an effort. What’s the best thing that could happen? They might just say yes!

13. Write Down 20 Things That Make You Feel Good

Think of this as a gratitude list. Typical things you might include are: your partner, your kids, your parents, your pets, etc.

I recommend writing this list at least once a month. And most importantly—make sure you’re giving the 20 things plenty of room in your life.

14. Stop Playing Different Roles

Stop playing different roles and squeezing yourself into boxes based on what you think people expect of you.

Be your authentic self, the one who knows what to do and loves what they do. It’s easy to find this part of yourself as it’s inherent in your hobbies and your close friendships.

If you can bring this authenticity into your work life, you’ll be surprised at how positively others will react to you.

15. Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Learn to catch yourself every time you tell yourself that you can’t have, won’t get, or aren’t good enough to get what you want[3].

Talk yourself up when learning how to be confident.

    Instead, tell yourself that you can have, will get, and are good enough to get what you want. Mindset is everything. Make sure yours is positive and dynamic.

    16. Take Yourself off Auto-Pilot

    Make deliberate decisions on what really matters to you.

    For instance, if you normally work 9 to 5 but find yourself spending hours getting to and from work, why not negotiate with your boss to mix your hours up a bit?

    You might also suggest a day or two working from home. Sell this to your boss by reminding them that the time and stress lost to commuting can be neatly transferred to productive work hours.

    17. Listen Carefully to What You Tell Yourself

    Next time you come up against a risk or a challenge, listen to what you tell yourself, and look for a way to improve your inner dialogue.

    If you normally find that your inner dialogue is negative, then break out of this by asking yourself questions such as:

    • What would make this easier?
    • Is there a different way of doing this?
    • Could research help?

    18. Laugh at Yourself

    Scared of looking silly? It’s no biggie, so don’t let it stop you.

    Whenever we try something new, there’s a fair chance that we’ll make fools of ourselves. But you’d be a bigger fool to let that stop you. Instead, laugh at your baby steps and watch your confidence soar as you begin to master your chosen activity.

    19. Listen to Your Doubts

    Sometimes your doubts are there to let you know what you need to prepare for, so you can use them to your benefit as you move forwards. Other times, they are just doubts.

    The trick is to quickly determine if your doubts have validity. If they do, use them to shape your decisions.

    To illustrate this, imagine that you’ve had an enticing job offer, but you doubt whether you’re capable of doing the job. Spend a little time analyzing your doubts to see whether they reflect reality, or whether they are just negative thoughts that are trying to hold you back.

    20. Recall a Time When You Did a Great Job

    Think of a time when it felt like a whole bank of switches in your head flicked to the on position, and you were firing on all cylinders. What were you doing, and what’s the reason it felt so great? Can you emulate that passion and drive that you had?

    21. Tear up Your Rule Book

    You may not know it, but you’ve almost certainly got a whole bunch of outdated rules that determine what you do and don’t do. These rules limit your thinking and your behavior.

    It’s time to change them. Tear up this subconscious rule book and toss it in the fire. Once you’ve done this, you’ll immediately notice how free you feel to make challenging and exciting decisions.

    22. Ask Yourself What You Have Gained When You Lose

    Do you get annoyed with yourself because you didn’t make the most of something or stepped back from an opportunity?

    Firstly, don’t beat yourself up because that’s just going to make you feel worse. Instead, be brutally honest and ask yourself what you gained from the situation and what you lost out on.

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    Based on this win/lose balance, what’s a different choice you can make next time?

    23. Don’t Let People Put You Down

    If there’s someone in your life who puts you down or makes you feel small, you owe it to yourself to let them know that you expect something different from now on. 

    Trust me, once you’ve told them, they’ll change, and you will, too. Inevitably, you’ll boost both your confidence and happiness by taking control of your life in this way.

    Learn how to get out of toxic relationships in this article.

    24. Reveal a Little Bit of the Real You

    Relationships can be difficult. They can also lose their zest and become stale. If this happens in your relationship, then it’s time to add some magic to the mix.

    Try revealing something interesting about yourself or your past that your partner doesn’t currently know when learning how to be confident. Perhaps you never mentioned to them that you used to play in a rock band—and you still have the recordings to prove it!

    By adding new things to your relationship, you’ll deepen the bond and keep the spark alive.

    25. Be Your Own Hero

    Recognize that you’re more than a match for any situation you might find yourself in—no matter how tough the going gets.

    We all love movies like Die Hard where ordinary people are driven to super-ordinary feats. But here’s the rub: you can be your own action hero.

    Whatever the situation, meet it head on and overcome it. Keep in mind the classic phrase: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

    26. Don’t Give in to the Instant Pay-off

    If I was to offer you $100 now for a day’s work tomorrow or $110 for the same work, but I won’t pay you for a week, which would you choose? Well, I can’t read your mind, but I do know that studies using a similar question to this have found that most people choose the instant, smaller payment over the latter, bigger payment. It seems that we’re hardwired for instant gratification.

    However, if you want to be a success in life, always look at the bigger picture. In the example above, if you could have only waited seven more days, you would have been $10 richer!

    27. Instead of Yelling “I Deserve Better,” Say “I Can Be Better”

    Too often I hear people complaining about their personal circumstances but refusing to do anything about it. Don’t be like them.

    If things aren’t going your way, find solutions and implement them. Your boldness and decisiveness will boost your confidence and help you rapidly climb the ladder of success.

    28. Admit You’re Wrong

    It may not be easy, but you should always be prepared to hold your hands up and change your mind if things are going south. Not every idea you have will be a winning one. The trick is to know when things are clearly not working out.

    You can either attempt to get them back on track or kill them off completely (sometimes that’s the best way).

    29. Trust Your Instincts

    We all have our gut feelings and intuitions, but many people choose to ignore them and rely only on facts, facts, and more facts! While this may work for many scenarios, there will be other times when you’ll need to rely on your instincts.

    30. Imagine Your Confident Future Self

    Imagine you’re visited by a successful, confident, attractive, and vibrant version of you from the future, a version of you who’s everything you hope to be. What do they want to tell you?

    They might praise your efforts, but they may also criticize your lack of planning and weak goals.

    Luckily, if you listen closely to what they tell you, you’ll be able to rapidly shift gears in your life and become the you of the future!

    31. Ask for Help

    This is a common issue. We take on way too many responsibilities and end up either burning ourselves out or just doing a bad job!

    The secret is to put the vast majority of your energy and efforts into what you do well. Give the stuff you don’t do well to others who have a gift for it. Sometimes the most confident and effective thing to do is ask for help.

    32. Be Around People Who Make You Feel Like You

    Do this by spending more time with the people who support and encourage you and less time with those who undermine you.

    At work, don’t be ruined by negative, petty people. Instead, make sure you surround yourself with colleagues who make you laugh and feel good about yourself.

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    33. Participate in the World Around You

    Ask yourself this question: “What can I participate in that’s important to me?”

    Typically, this could be your church, a sports club, or even just a weekly get together with your best friend.

    34. Develop Skills to Work on Things That Matter to You

    What can you practice that would radically improve your chances of winning?

    If you want to climb the corporate ladder, for example, then develop the skills needed to do this. These might include: effective project management skills, powerful presentation abilities, and superb goal setting skills.

    Of course, don’t forget that emulating those who have already achieved your goal is one of the quickest and most reliable ways for you to achieve your aims, too.

    35. Act Until You Make It

    The body is a mirror for the mind, so shifting your body language into a confident state can have surprising results.

    This is all about acting. If you want to come across as tough, act tough. If you want to come across as successful, act successful. And if you want to come across as confident, act confident.

    Try doing these things, and you’ll be amazed by the results.

    36. Push Through When You Want to Give up

    Don’t get disheartened or demotivated when you get to 90% with something you’re working on. Push through, and you’ll see that the last 10% is where the magic happens.

    37. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

    Keep comparing yourself to others? Stop it. If you want to learn how to be confident, don’t try to validate yourself through comparison—you’re just peachy as you are.

    Social media often makes this difficult. Try stepping away from your Facebook page for a few days and reconnect with the great things in your own life.

    You can get started with this guide.

    38. Speak up When You Can Make a Difference

    Speak up if there’s something you think could be improved or if you have an idea you think has legs.

    Have you noticed that quiet people at work rarely get the promotions? It’s not that they are incapable or lacking talent, but their abilities are usually overlooked as they don’t know how to engage with others or how to sell themselves.

    Step out of your comfort zone and be sure that you’re an active player. Speak up in meetings by suggesting ideas and offering constructive criticism.

    39. Stop Struggling and Start Accepting

    If there’s something you’ve been struggling to understand for a while, stop trying to understand it. Accept it just as it is, fully and wholly.

    Life offers endless mysteries. If you try to resolve them all you’ll drive yourself insane. Instead, let some mysteries remain, and keep your mind focused on your goals and dreams.

    40. It’s Okay to Be Shy

    There’s nothing wrong with being shy, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a confident person.

    If you suffer from shyness, you might think it’s a major weakness of yours. However, introverted people have the edge in many ways, such as: they’re first-rate listeners, they have excellent observational skills, and they’re easier to trust[4].

    41. Clean up Your Environment

    Your environment directly impacts your self-perception. So, if you’re surrounded by clutter, paperwork, and rubbish, put a morning aside to clean up your stuff and get organized.

    42. Write a List of Things You Would Love to Do

    Write yourself a list of the amazing things you’d love to do in your life, and make a start by simply looking into the first one or two things that leap out at you. This will help you get started as you learn how to be confident

    Even if you don’t currently have the means to live your dreams, you can, at the very least, make a start. The best way to do this is to write out the things you’d love to do. These may include cool stuff, such as travelling the world, learning a new language, or climbing a mountain.

    Once you’ve added the items to your list, don’t stop there. Begin researching and preparing ways to turn your dreams into realities.

    43. Make Your Self-Worth Independent From Others’ Validation

    Don’t make your happiness or self-worth dependent on being in a relationship or being validated by someone else.

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    While it’s difficult to admit it, we often find ourselves rating our self-esteem by the value other people put on us.

    For instance, you may have a super-positive boss who is always encouraging and supportive. They make you feel upbeat and confident at all times.

    However, imagine if they left and your new boss was the complete opposite. They constantly look for faults in your work and regularly criticize you. Would you still feel confident in those circumstances?

    If you’ve answered no, then you need to reappraise your self-worth, as it shouldn’t be dependent on the validation of others.

    44. Use Your Strengths

    We all have our weaknesses, but they only undermine your confidence if you let them.

    For instance, are you aware that Virgin’s founder Richard Branson suffers from dyslexia? He never let this hold him back or destroy his confidence. Today, he is one of the world’s most successful men, with a net worth of approximately $5 billion[5].

    45. Complete a To-Do List

    The longer you leave that big thing on your to-do list, the more it’ll drain you, and the bigger it’ll seem. Get it done and free yourself up.

    If you have a big goal, break it down into smaller tasks. For instance, instead of trying to write a whole chapter of your book in one go, how about just writing the opening paragraph?

    46. Treat Your Body Well

    When learning how to be confident, our body image does matter, because if you have a bad relationship with your body, you won’t feel confident in yourself.

    What’s one of the first things most of us do when we get up in the morning? We look in the mirror. If we don’t like what we see there, then our day starts off with negative self-talk. If, on the other hand, we look in the mirror and feel proud of our appearance, then we start the day off in an upbeat, positive way.

    If you’re unhappy with your body and looks, do something to improve them. Exercise, diet, and styling are common ways of improving your body image—and your confidence.

    47. Learn to Say No

    Don’t say yes to taking on a task simply because you don’t want to rock the boat. You can politely decline requests you can’t meet without needing to create excuses.

    While saying yes to everything that comes your way might feel like you’re being helpful and in demand, in the long run, you’ll burn yourself out.

    48. Learn From Confident People

    Look at the people you respect who seem confident. Don’t copy them, but identify what it is they do differently that conveys confidence and what you can learn from it.

    People-watching is not only fun, but it can be informative, too. Look closely at successful people you know, or those being interviewed on TV, and over time you’ll begin to notice common traits, beliefs, and behaviors that they exhibit.

    49. Follow Through on Your Plans

    Most people find it easy to write plans. The hard part, of course, is seeing them through. To stand out from the crowd, make sure that you know exactly how to complete your plans.

    If you need to, write down a step-by-step guide and begin following it. Not only will this drive you towards the completion of your plans—but experiencing the progress will also give you a continuous boost to your self-esteem.

    50. Shift Your Focus When You Doubt Yourself

    When you feel yourself focusing inwards and becoming paralyzed with doubt or fear, switch to focusing outwards at what you can engage and interact with.

    I remember one of my writing tutors telling me that when the words stop flowing, it’s time to take a break— preferably a walk in the park. It’s sound advice as it’s very easy to get caught up with our thoughts and emotions and be unable to make progress.

    51. Never Beat Yourself up for Failing

    Life is guaranteed to not always be a barrel of laughs. Instead, it’s much more like a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs, so ride them out.

    The art of living is to know how to handle whatever comes you way. The best way to achieve this is by developing an iron core that is unhindered by the topsy-turvy outside world.

    Final Thoughts

    Here I’ve given you 51 different ways to start building self-confidence Take action on the ways that you’re drawn to.

    It’s not enough to read about them. For them to work, you must adopt them into your daily life. Do this, and you’ll start to feel your confidence soar.

    More on How to Be Confident

    Featured photo credit: Matheus Ferrero via unsplash.com

    Reference

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