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Confidence is believing in yourself – believing that you are capable of completing tasks and reaching goals.

Confidence is knowing that you have skills and positive traits, that you are able to face challenges and deal with difficult circumstances; it is knowing that you are your best resource. Confidence levels can change throughout your life and across different areas of your life. Many things can influence your confidence levels such as your thoughts, feelings, actions and past experiences.

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What does confidence mean for women?

Watch Jean Hailes Professor of Women's Health Jane Fisher discuss confidence and what it means for women in the video below.

Why is confidence important for health?

When you feel confident you tend to make decisions that are good for you and your health. You are more likely to take care of yourself, get out and about, be active, and choose healthier foods. Confidence can also give you a positive outlook on life, increasing your mental and emotional wellbeing.

However, when your confidence is low, your feelings of self-worth and self-respect may also suffer. You may not care how others treat you or how you treat yourself. You may not care about what you eat or how you spend your time, and this can start to affect your health.

It can also be hard to make decisions and face challenges when your confidence is low. You may start to doubt yourself and what you can achieve. Meeting new people or trying new things may become more difficult. You might worry about saying or doing the wrong thing and so you start to hide away and avoid things. This avoidance behaviour can lead to a negative cycle, lowering your confidence even more.

What gives you confidence?

It is important to remember that your confidence levels cannot be high across all areas of your life all the time. You can experience low levels of confidence at different times and in different areas of your life and sometimes it is hard to work out why. It is important to try and understand what affects your confidence because ongoing low confidence can affect your physical and emotional health, your relationships with others, and your work or school life.

Watch the video below and see what gives these women confidence.

What can you do to build your confidence?

The good news is there are lots of things you can do to help with your confidence. Here are a few tips:

  • Ask yourself – and list – what affects your confidence in different situations and at different times
  • Focus on the things you do well and have achieved – not the things you don’t do well
  • Pick someone who you think is confident and list the things that you think make them confident. How do they act? What do they focus on? What words do they use to describe their successes?
  • Fake it until you make it. Even women who appear confident don’t feel that way all the time but they have learned ways to project the appearance of being self-confident
  • Talk to other women about confidence – ask about what helps them and what is difficult for them too
  • Accept compliments – this can be difficult for some people, but even saying ‘thank you’ is a great start
  • Think of building confidence as a process. Small steps, practice and time are all part of learning to be more confident

In this podcast, Jean Hailes health experts, Professor Jane Fisher and Dr Mandy Deeks, discuss how to build confidence.

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Mind your mind

Keeping your mind and brain healthy is an important part of building and maintaining confidence. Your mood, concentration levels, and memory can all affect your outlook on life so taking care of these areas is another way that can improve confidence.

The wrong foods, not enough food or water, too little sleep and not being active can all affect your mind, making you depressed, sad, anxious, prone to stress, mood swings or unable to concentrate.

Studies show that a healthy brain needs good nutrition, exercise and mental challenges. Visit our healthy living webpages to learn about foods that could benefit your brain and mental health and find lots of tips and information about healthy eating and being physically active.

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Get social

Social connections are made up of the people you engage with and know, the friends you can confide in, the family you belong to and the community you work and live in. Social support refers to the emotional, practical, advice, love, help, resources, information and empathy you give and receive among family, friends and community.

Evidence indicates that social connectedness has an influence on physical and emotional wellbeing. Research shows that engaging with others and being part of a network, is seen as a reward by the brain and is associated with the release of one of the happiness hormones, dopamine.

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Confidence and social connections

Your own level of confidence can affect whether you connect with others. You might feel shy around others and this can lower your confidence even further, particularly if it makes you feel inadequate.

The way other people have treated you in social situations can either lower or raise your confidence too. Having people in your life who are negative or who make you feel like you are not good enough can dent your confidence and make you want to hide away.

Confidence to engage with others can be different for each person and change from day to day. Here are some tips to help you get social and engage:

  • Be less critical of yourself and others in social situations
  • Join a group or start one if there are none in your area and you have an idea for a group – this could be a book club, art group, discussion or walking group
  • Try new experiences and gradually increase the amount of time you spend in building new social skills and making new connections
  • Seek out groups on social media who share the same values, interests and ideas as you – Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest for example have lots of different groups you can join to share conversations with like-minded people
  • Practise looking more confident in the mirror – eg practise maintaining eye contact
  • Practise a few lines of conversation and think about a few topics of conversation before you arrive somewhere
  • Volunteer to meet new people – this might be a committee, club, baking, driving older people to appointments or visiting lonely people; volunteering gives you meaning and supporting others can add to your confidence

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at September 2014.

Last updated: 13 January 2020 | Last reviewed: 01 September 2014

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