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30 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence Instantly

Quick tricks to feel like a rock star, anytime, anywhere!

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Give a hug

Hugging, kissing, and other forms of physical touch release oxytocin, a hormone commonly known as “the cuddle hormone,” which facilitates bonding and releases stress. A recent study done by UCLA found that the gene that controls oxytocin is also linked to self-confidence. Activating your oxytocin can help you feel more confident. And genetics aside, simply being reminded that you’re loved in any way is an instant self-confidence booster. Don’t forget these powerful ways to remind yourself that you’re worthy.

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Hatch a plan

Fear and feelings of inadequacy are a major source of low confidence. The antidote to the poison of fear? Coming up with a solid plan that acknowledges and addresses potential problems. For instance, parents with critically ill babies reported that rather than being scared, they felt much more confident after talking through “nightmare scenarios” with medical personnel, according to a study published in The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing.

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Do a magic trick

Magic is, well, magical—and not just for those watching in awe as people seem to get sawed in half or tigers seem to vanish into thin air. Learning and performing a simple magic trick boosted the amateur magician’s confidence in a British study. The trick (pun intended) is that doing a magic trick requires you to manifest a certain level of confidence in order to be convincing, so practicing the trick inherently increases your confidence. Then when you do it and people react positively to you, it just reinforces the self-esteem boost.

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Sleep naked

Sleeping nude at night makes you inherently more confident during the daytime, says Travis Bradberry in Forbes. “As your comfort with your body increases, so does your self-esteem and confidence,” he writes. Can’t hurt to try! Try these tricks to boost your self-confidence.

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Buy a new pen

A person who is feeling a little unsure can instantly boost their self-confidence by buying a new pen. It may sound silly at first, but the pen is a symbol of action and intelligence, and can restore your confidence and belief in yourself, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. If you don’t want to do a little retail therapy, holding an object that reminds you of your competence and skill―like a favorite book or a class ring—can have a similar effect.

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Sign up for the word of the day

Sometimes all you need to feel confident is a little reminder that you have things to feel confident about. One way to do this is to make it a point to learn something new every day. Whether that’s signing up for a “word of the day” email (and actually reading it) or reading an article on a science site, every new bit of knowledge will build up your confidence.

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Turn off the tube

The more TV you watch, the less confident you feel, according to a study published in Communication Research. Being exposed to idealized (and unrealistic) images and advertisements is a chronic reminder of all the ways you don’t measure up. This was especially true for females and people of color, the researchers found. Plus, hours spent watching shows are hours not spent doing something proven to boost confidence, such as playing a sport, pursuing a favorite hobby, or going outside. This is how you can build up your child’s self-esteem.

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Sit up straight

Your mother was right: Sitting up straight is good for you! Not only is proper posture better for you physically, but it’s also an instant self-confidence booster. Researchers from Ohio State found that people were more likely to believe they were qualified for a job simply by sitting up straight in their chair.

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Hide the credit cards

Buying something new may give you a quick rush of happiness, but that high quickly fades, as overspending can ultimately tank your confidence, according to a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology. People often think that buying themselves a little something will boost their confidence but the researchers found real confidence comes from exercising self-control—not to mention the joy you’ll feel when you see your lower credit card bill!

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Pull out the crayons

There’s something so meditative about getting out a newly sharpened box of colored pencils or fresh crayons and filling in an intricate picture. You’re not just replicating your favorite kindergarten activity, you’re teaching your brain on another level—as you color, you reinforce the message of the words and images. Use this to your advantage with the Coloring For Confidence adult coloring book, designed with affirmations built into the pictures. As a bonus, doodling can also make you smarter.

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Install an ad blocker

Women who looked at advertisements for beauty products took an immediate hit to their confidence levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. While you can’t block all the ads in your life yet (Google, will you fix that already?) you can take steps to limit your exposure to them by setting your online preferences to exclude beauty ads, install ad blocking software on your computer or browser, and skip over those types of ads on TV and in magazines.

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Apply some red lipstick

Putting on a swipe of bright red lipstick not only makes you feel more confident, but it makes other people view you as more confident as well. Nearly 90 percent of people in a New York Post survey said that red lipstick conveys confidence. While we’re gonna say this tip applies mainly to women, we certainly wouldn’t knock a gent for giving it a try too!

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Stop it with the selfies

Obsessively looking at selfies of yourself or others leads to lower self-esteem, says research published in the Journal of Telematics and Infomatics. Staring at your selfies can cause you to pick apart your flaws, while looking at others can lead you to compare yourself to them—and feel less for it. Snapping a few fun vacation selfies to share with friends is fine, just don’t become obsessed with tweaking every flaw or with tallying how many “likes” or “hearts” you get.

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Text your mom

She birthed you, so chances are she has some insight into what makes you great. If you need a quick injection of confidence, texting your mom (or someone else who loves you deeply, like a spouse or best friend) can give you just the boost you need. Just make sure to say thanks—and maybe apologize for the 22 hours of labor you put her through. This 30-minute workout can help to boost your body image.

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Become a groupie

No, we’re not telling you to sell everything to follow Phish or Drake around the world (as fun as that might be) but rather that joining a group—any group—is good for your confidence. Whether it’s a tennis club, a Bible study, a book club, or a bar trivia group, the sense of belonging to a group makes people feel more confident, even more so than having a large network of friends, says a study done by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

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Stretch yourself a little

Nothing builds confidence like accomplishing a goal, but making your self-worth contingent upon accomplishing big stuff can also be a recipe for disaster. Rather that freaking out that you’re not a CEO by age 40, set small goals that are within your ability to easily accomplish, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Checking off a smaller goal—say, sending that email to your boss you’ve been putting off for a week—will give you a quick confidence boost while strengthening your ability to meet bigger goals.

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Gossip about your favorite celebrity

Comparing yourself to the beautiful people is a surefire esteem-buster, but feeling like you’re a part of your favorite celebrity’s life—say, by reading magazine articles about Ryan Gosling or following Beyonce on Instagram (ah, those twins!)—can actually give you a shot of confidence. Feeling like you’re connected to someone accomplished and famous can make you feel instantly better about yourself, according to a study published in Personal Relationships. Plus sharing celebrity gossip is just fun.

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Sign up for the office softball league

Exercise is a known confidence booster, as is being part of a group. Combine the two by playing a group sport and you have the perfect recipe for inner confidence, according to a study done by the University of Florida. These are things that confident people would never, ever do, so you shouldn’t either.

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Uninstall Facebook on your phone

People who post constantly about their romantic partner tend to have low self-confidence, according to researchers at Brunel University. While the gushy status updates are likely more a consequence than a cause of their diminished self-esteem, social media use can have a serious impact on your self-image (as anyone who’s ever hate-liked someone else’s wedding pictures understands). Social media, by its very nature, invites comparison. Instead of scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, use it for specific reasons, like seeing a friend’s new baby or responding to an invitation. One way to do this is to uninstall social media apps from your phone, thus requiring you to make a conscious choice to view them by going to a desktop.

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Bring out your lucky rabbit’s foot

OK, important question: Do people still use actual rabbit feet as totems of good luck? Because we can’t remember the last time we saw someone pull a furry, dismembered animal part out of their pocket (thankfully). But regardless of how you feel about rabbits’ feet, having a “lucky” object does give you an immediate sense of confidence, says a study done by the Association for Psychological Science. Even if you know it’s just superstition, wearing your lucky underwear or eating your lucky meal makes your brain feel like something good will happen.

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Cover up scars if they make you feel bad

For some people, showing their scars—whether it’s stretch marks from pregnancy or stitches from a bike accident—are a source of pride (and great stories). But for many others scars are a visible reminder of a painful, embarrassing, or tragic time of their life, and seeing the scar can hurt their confidence. If you fall into the latter category, covering, minimizing, lightening, or removing the scar can help you feel more self-confident, according to a study done by Cancer Research U.K. The researchers found that breast cancer survivors felt more confident after having the marks from their treatments permanently covered. Alternately, show off your scars if seeing them makes you feel empowered or reminds you of a time you accomplished something difficult.

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Go to church

People who describe themselves as religious and who participate in church-related activities have more self-esteem and confidence than those who don’t, according to a study published in Psychological Science. While this was most true for people who lived in places that valued religion, feeling connected to something bigger than themselves was a surefire way for study participants to feel more confident. Try these ways to be nicer to yourself.

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List three things you love about your body

Loving your body is easier said than done, we know! But learning to love the way your body looks now and appreciate it for what it can do not only skyrockets confidence right now but gives you a boost in self-confidence long-term, according to a study done by Chapman University. How? Start by listing three things you love about yourself and write them down in a journal. Enlist friends if you’re having a hard time getting started.

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Skip the self-help books

If you’re trying to change something specific—like losing weight, quitting smoking, or improving your marriage—then a self-help book can help you make a solid plan to do it. But if you’re looking to feel more confident now, reading a self-help book may have the opposite effect, according to a study published in Psychological Science.

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Sign up for a 5K

Exercise releases a rush of confidence-building endorphins by itself, but setting a physical goal—like running a race or swimming a certain number of laps—increases your sense of self-efficacy and confidence, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine. Think this won’t work for you because of health problems or a busy schedule? The study found that physical goals work particularly well for people struggling with an illness and that the exercise increased energy. It’s the movement and accomplishing the goal, rather than the goal itself, that builds confidence.

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Crank the tunes

Words have power, even more so when we belt them loudly in our car along with our favorite singer on the radio. Pick an upbeat, powerful anthem—we love Rachel Platten’s “This Is My Fight Song“—and sing your heart out. We dare you to try it and not feel more confident!

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Strike a power pose

Your body language shapes who you are, says Amy Cuddy, PhD, a social psychologist, in her powerful TED Talk on the subject. Standing in a way that conveys power can trick your brain into making you feel instantly more powerful. Start by standing up straight, uncrossing your arms, and making eye contact with people.

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Try hypnosis

Adults suffering from a lack of confidence can rewrite their critical inner scripts using… hypnosis. Hypnosis is more than just a party trick, says Matt James, PhD, in Psychology Today. “Hypnosis speak(s) the language of the unconscious and communicate(s) directly with it,” he writes. “Within literally minutes using the techniques,” he adds, “you can release that feeling of low self-confidence and replace it with a sense of natural confidence that feels integral to who you are—not based on circumstances or ‘proof.'”

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Fake it till you make it

Sometimes confidence comes from simply acting like you know what your doing—a fact that Frank Abagnale, subject of the movie Catch Me If You Can and one of history’s greatest con-men understood perfectly. He passed himself off as a pilot and doctor among other things by acting so confident that he believed it himself. Of course, we’re not telling you to go on a cross-continental crime spree, but borrowing a little of his chutzpah can help you get the confidence you need to speak in public or ask someone out.

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Do something—anything

Doing something instead of nothing—even if it’s unloading the dishwasher, rinsing out your coffee mug, or rearranging the pens on your desk—is an instant way to raise confidence. Simply taking an action, even if it isn’t the “right” or “best” one, helps people feel in control and confident, according to research done by the University of Virginia. Thinking things through is good but sitting and ruminating on your thoughts leads to anxiety and lower confidence, they found. So decide what you want to do, then do it. Next, read about how you can improve your body image without exercising.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen has been covering health and fitness for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 13 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She teaches fitness classes in her spare time. She lives in Denver with her husband, four children, and three pets.