Read This If You're Having A Bad Day

Confidence is one of those things that some people make look so easy — celebrities, Donald Trump, your work nemesis — while the rest of us hide in a bathroom stall trying to get up the nerve to talk with our boss (about a raise), our crush (about a date), or fill-in-the-blank person (who could make or break our future). You start the day feeling good (giving yourself a little pep talk, wearing your favorite outfit, ready to kick major butt), only to trip over your heels or spill coffee on your shirt or flub someone’s name and find yourself back at the bottom, struggling to hold your head up. We’ve all been there. But how do you pull yourself out of those slumps (whether they last a few minutes or a few weeks)? Confidence is important — no one will deny the magnetism of someone who seems completely secure in her skin — and, thankfully, it’s a skill you can develop.

Ahead, we’ve gathered 23 ways to boost your confidence quick, for those days, weeks, months, or (we hope not) years when you feel like a loser. We promise you: You’re not.

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Life is long, and chances are there will always be something else that you’re striving for. And when you do achieve something major (a promotion, a new job, buying a house), it can feel like you only get a little bit of time to enjoy it before you have to move onto the next goal. So while you might feel down that you haven’t reached some made-up milestone (executive VP by 30, millionaire by 27, startup founder by 21, whatever), you have to know you'd be onto the next big dream by now even if you had. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate the small successes. Did you impress a client and get good feedback? Did you finish a months-long assignment that had been hanging over your head? Heck, did you fix the jammed copy machine? Nice job! Take a moment and enjoy the win. Give yourself a gold star or buy yourself a latte. You deserve it!
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When you’re having a bout of insecurity, it can be good to take a look at your weaknesses and consider how they could be holding you back. I’m prone to taking on way too many projects — I want to talk to everyone, write everything, and go everywhere. As a result, my schedule is overcrowded, and I don’t get to spend as much time on the important things. If I was better about saying no, I probably wouldn’t find myself feeling insecure about something I’ve written because I would have had more time to work on it. Analyzing your weaknesses isn’t an excuse for a pity party. It’s more about taking a hard look at the areas of your life that could be holding you back and making a plan to fix them — or let them go. No one is good at everything, and once you recognize that, it can help you put more focus on the areas where you do excel.
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There’s really no such thing as people who are just naturally talented. Pro athletes, pop stars, best-selling authors: They're all successful because they practice all the time. So if there’s an area of your life that’s bumming you out — and you think it’s worth improving — there’s an easy solution to your problem: practice. Practice, practice, practice, practice. It will make you better, and it will make you feel better.
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This can feel counterproductive when you’re battling some low self-esteem and all you want to do is stay in bed and watch Parenthood on Netflix, but taking a risk can sometimes be just what you need to pull yourself out of a funk. Doing something scary can be a total adrenaline rush that leaves you feeling all, LOOK WHAT I JUST DID. And that’s an awesome confidence booster (and something you can reference the next time you hit a bump and are feeling low).
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We all want constant praise and shiny gold stars from our boss, but in reality, most managers are too busy to take the time to say, “good job.” And it sucks. If my boss doesn't share her opinion on something I'm working on, sometimes I start to imagine the worst. She hates me. She hates my writing. I'm going to get fired.

It can be tough, but sometimes you just need to ask for feedback. There’s always a chance it will be negative, but not knowing where you stand at work can breed insecurity. Sometimes, the only way to get the information you want is to set up a meeting and ask for it. You’ll feel so much better once you do. If the feedback is bad, then at least you have something to work toward fixing. And if it's good, well, we already knew you're a total badass. Good to know your boss thinks so, too!
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I have this red sweater blazer and a grey dress that make me feel like a million bucks. I like to wear that outfit whenever I have a big meeting or an important interview. I know a lot of people argue that what you wear isn’t important, or it’s unfair to suggest that people should buy new clothes to boost their self-esteem. But if we’re being realistic about the working world, we have to point out the truth: How you present yourself is so important. You don’t need to have a closet full of expensive clothes to get ahead, but you will feel a lot better if you have one or two outfits you absolutely love that you can wear whenever you need a pick-me-up. I don’t wear that dress and blazer because I think it will impress other people — I wear it because it makes me feel ready to take on the world.
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It doesn’t have to be your mom — it can be your partner, best friend, dad, brother, grandmother, whoever. Everyone should have one person they can call whenever they feel the lowest of the low. I usually call my mom when things seem really bleak, because she rarely complains about my complaining. Plus, she gives a killer pep talk. Find that person who can be an emotional support system and hold onto them tight. (Although be careful not to take advantage of their generosity — it's important to be the listener sometimes, too.)
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Jealousy is the worst, and we all fall victim to it from time to time. There is always going to be someone in your life who seems to have it all: the looks, the money, the relationship, the success. But everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — has their own problems and insecurities. Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s hard, but letting go of jealousy will make you feel so much better. Your mom was right when she said that the only person you should be competing with is yourself. That’s one of the reasons you should call her sometimes!
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I hate giving this advice, but it works. Exercise truly is a cure-all. It boosts creativity and productivity, and when you’re having a sucky time of things, working out can make you feel better. Lace up your sneakers and pound the pavement for a few miles while listening to your favorite playlist. Take a weird dance class you’ve always wanted to try — and worry less about getting all the moves right and more about having fun. Do yoga or Pilates and Zen out a bit. It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, spending an hour focusing on yourself by getting your heart pumping will help you forget about whatever is zapping your confidence. And you might even come out on the other side with a few good ideas or a solution to your problem.
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You should be doing this regularly anyway, in order to keep your résumé fresh. But on those days, when you want to crawl back into bed and never come out, pull out your notebook and start writing down all the things you’re good at. This shouldn’t just be work-related. If you know how to make a killer chocolate cake, write that down. If you’re a good mom to your rescue pup, write that down, too. Chances are, when you really think about it and put pen to paper, the list will be longer than a page — longer than that pesky to-do list or depressing round-up of shit that’s making you feel bad. After you finish writing it, tuck it away somewhere safe, so you can pull it out the next time you’re feeling terrible.
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When I started working at Refinery29, I was terrified. My last job was in a basement office with four people. Suddenly, I was working among a bunch of amazing women who have impeccable style — and who are smart and talented to boot. But I didn’t want to let on that I was crazy-intimidated. So I faked it. I stood tall. I smiled a lot. I complimented my coworkers on their cool accessories (which made me feel like the new girl in junior high). Slowly, I found my place and had to fake it less. These days, I don’t have to fake it at work very often, but sometimes I do act as if I have a bit more confidence than I really do when I have to go to an important event or interview an impressive woman. It works 95% of the time — which is great to lean on in a pinch, like an instant-gratification confidence boost.
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If you’re having a really shitty day, step away from your computer, put on your jacket, and take a walk around the block. Sometimes, it’s good to bring a friend (or call one!) who will listen while you vent. Sometimes, it’s better to be alone with your thoughts. I’ve cried on many a New York City street corner, and on those days when you’re feeling downright awful, it can be a good way to release some tension away from the prying eyes of your coworkers or boss. Stop by Starbucks on the way back to work to dry your tears and buy a round of coffees for your team.
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My husband and I frequently have living room dance parties for two. My go-to song for a bad day is Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," though T Swift's "Shake It Off" is a winner, as well. Bouncing around being silly instantly makes me feel better. One of my best friends goes to the office bathroom and dances around like a crazy person — she didn't even flinch when an exec caught her mid-move once. Desk dancing can be a little trickier, but sometimes it's good to put on your favorite song and do some secret moves when no one is looking.
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Sometimes that lack of confidence comes from feeling really bogged down by an epic to-do list. And who doesn’t have something on their list that they’ve been avoiding like the plague? Just do it. Right now. Stop reading this and get it done. Sure, there are a million other things you need to do, but chances are that one thing is really weighing on you and making you feel bad. Taking the time to get it done will make you feel accomplished and boost your self-esteem.
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If you're feeling like a big flop, stop making it all about yourself and do something nice for someone else. This could be as big as volunteering your time for nonprofit, or as small as buying your coworker a cup of coffee just for the hell of it. There's even scientific evidence that suggests volunteering boosts self-esteem (not that you should help others purely for selfish reasons...).
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At my house, we like to say: “It’s all okay in the end. If not okay, it’s not the end.” I also believe that everything happens for a reason and that it’s important to do one thing every day that scares you (well, maybe more like every week). Feeling low? Inspirational quotes can be an easy way to feel better fast. There are thousands of them on Tumblr and Pinterest, and who doesn't love a good #MotivationMonday Instagram?
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The new skill could be work-related (figuring out Excel once and for all) or something personal (learning to bake bread) — it doesn’t really matter. When you’re looking for a confidence boost, the important thing is to find something you want to try, and then get really good at it, so you can step back and celebrate the small success.
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Seriously, this is the best thing ever. I reconnected with an old professor last winter when I was looking to hire some new writers, and I provided him with a brief update — married, working for Refinery29, living in Brooklyn. That’s my everyday life and it feels far from glamorous. Most of the time, I'm struggling with all the mundane shit: taking out the garbage, making the bed, filing invoices, riding the subway. But his response was the best: Married! Living in Brooklyn! Writing for a major website! Nice work! It reframed everything and made me feel so much better about how much I've accomplished. And I totally read it sometimes when I’m doubting myself, as a reminder that I’m actually kicking butt.
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Having a mentor is important, but being one might be just as beneficial to your career. This is similar to sending an email update to your old prof. Hanging out with a junior coworker, an intern, or someone who went to your college, and sharing your experiences — the good and the bad — can be really enlightening. It will give you a sense of how much you’ve accomplished and how much you know. There's someone out there who looks up to you. Nice job!
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Yeah, I know: You can’t do this at work. But if you’re really feeling bad, you probably haven't gotten enough sleep, or you might be hungry. Self-care is so important and it can really boost your self-esteem. Get some sleep. Life will seem more manageable when you're rested.
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I know I recommended faking it until you make it, but that doesn’t mean you should be fake. You’ll never feel confident if you don’t embrace your true self, flaws and all. No one is perfect. No one is confident 100% of the time. Most of us are our toughest critics. Be gentle with yourself; you're doing a great job. I promise.
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