Instant Confidence Boosters
A bad hair day, a wobble on stilettos or a sudden onset of the sweats can send confidence levels south. And it can be worse when those snafus happen during an important meeting or a hot date. We corralled a bunch of experts — from doctors to stylists — for their quick tips on tackling seven esteem sinkers.
1. Walk Tall
You’ve got the perfect shoes to go with that dress — now you just have to walk in them. If you’re feeling less than steady on heels, you can achieve proper balance through visualization, says Elisabeth Halfpapp, co-founder of the Exhale wellness centers across the country.
Practice first in bare feet. Stand tall and line the middle of your ears over your shoulders, keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Shoulder should be in line with hips. Keep hips over the knees and the knees over the ankle. Allow your tail to drop — no tucking! And avoid pitching your body forward. Keeping your chin parallel to the floor, begin walking on the balls of your feet. “Place one foot in front of the other in a parallel stance, similar to a runway model, which can help keep balance,” says Halfpapp.
2. Hair Rx
If your do is having an off day, fake it, suggests Gina Pieper, artistic director of the Empire Education Group, a network of cosmetology educational centers. For instant style, add a clip-on hairpiece. For instant modern style, pick up a braided headband. Sweep hair into a loose pony and tease at the crown for a bit of volume. Pull the bottom of the headband behind ears for a more natural look, says Pieper. You can also try clip-on bangs or a long, sexy pony for a fast fix and a new look. Just make sure to match the pieces perfectly with your hair color.
3. Get a Leg up
These days, daring to bare — your legs — is a fashion do. But what can you do if your gams aren’t as glam as you’d like? Camouflage uneven skin tone and disguise bumps by applying a blend of your foundation and daily moisturizer, says Pieper. Start with 1/3 part makeup, 2/3 parts moisturizer. Play with the ratio to get the perfect coverage for you. “For visible veins or scars, concealer works miracles,” she says. Just beware that your legs may be a different shade than your face; check the applications in natural light.
4. Wake up
Feeling beat? Fake bright eyes with an application of a light-reflecting concealer one shade lighter than the skin tone, recommends Achelle Dunaway, veteran makeup artist and product developer. “This will create an illuminating effect to wake up eyes,” she says. Another option: Apply white eyeliner to the corners.
5. Stay Dry
Never let them see you sweat: “The ingredients that keep underarms dry have the same effect to the parts of the face that have the most glands,” says celebrity makeup artist Joanna Schlip. Slick a thin layer of clear, unscented deodorant across along your hairline and upper lip — where makeup tends to melt. Follow with your favorite matte makeup look.
6. Banish Bad Breath
The result of excess bacteria in the mouth, bad breath can be the cause of many factors, including dry mouth. Pop some sugar-free candy or gum to keep the juices flowing and keep dryness at bay. “Always brush twice a day, floss daily and use an oral rinse to help kill odor-causing bacteria,” say Dr. Elisa Mello of NYC Smile Design, a cosmetic dental practice. Try a teeth whitener or toothpaste with whitener so you’re never worried about your smile.
7. Get Rid of Redness
Excitement, hot temperatures and drinking alcohol can all trigger a flushed face. If redness appears before a special event, Dunaway suggests washing with a gentle cleanser the night before, using your hands instead of a washcloth, which can be an exfoliator. On the big day, apply a green-based concealer to spot-cover any red areas. (Green neutralizes red for a more natural look.) To calm skin, you can also place your foundation in the freezer a few minutes before applying.
By Sandra Ramani for Bright Smile Beautiful You
Sandra Ramani has covered spa, beauty, travel and lifestyle topics for Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Essence and NYMag.com. She is currently a contributing editor for Organic Spa Magazine and SpaWeek.com.
Fifteen Instant Smile Makers
If long workdays and a lack of time for yourself have you feeling down, try one — or more! — of these quick ways to immediately boost your mood and make you smile.
1. Get a foot massage. Targeting the reflexology points on the foot stimulates the release of endorphins — feel-good hormones that can produce a feeling of euphoria. Unfortunately, getting frequent massages involves dropping a dozen not-too-subtle “Boy, do my feet hurt” hints to your significant other — and a grudging foot massage won’t exactly have you breaking into a satisfied grin. Instead, head to the nearest nail salon. That minute-long foot and calf massage that comes in between the pumice and the polish is pure bliss.
2. Change your ringtone to the sound of your niece laughing, or get your boyfriend to record the punch line to your favorite inside joke to signal a call.
3. Do something new. Take a different way home, reverse the route for your run, turn a cartwheel or do some inverted yoga poses. Viewing the world from a different angle can help you see the funny side of life.
4. Smell sweets. Certain aromas can instantly transport us to happier times. The scent of freshly-baked apple pie wafting from a bakery evokes your grandmother’s kitchen. That hit of fruitier-than-nature-intended strawberry, cherry and sugar from bubble gum can take you back to fun times in grade school — when smiles were plentiful, life was simpler and only your mom worried about your cavities.
5. Tune Pandora or your radio to some salsa or dance music, even for just a few minutes.
6. Play with a dog. Studies show that spending time with animals is an instant mood lifter. Don’t have a dog? Log on to an Internet puppy cam, such as the Southeastern Guide Dog website.
7. Skip the status update. Instead of tweeting your memories, set a date to see your pals. Studies show that actual human interaction can not only improve your mood, but also your health.
8. Write a fan letter. Make like a teen and gush about your love for someone. (You don’t have to declare yourself Team Edward or Jacob.) Sending a note to your favorite author, the chef at your go-to restaurant — even if that’s the corner pizzeria — will make someone’s day, and yours too.
9. Love yourself. While you’re sharing your accolades, give some to yourself. Blow yourself a kiss in the mirror just before you leave the house in the morning. Or practice repeating a self-positive mantra any time you need a little boost.
10. Go fly a kite — literally. Dutch researchers found that making upwards movements, such as reaching towards the sky, produced positive memories and resulted in an improved mood. And a slew of studies have shown that just being in nature can boost your happiness factor.
11. Leave a (slightly) risque message on your partner’s cell phone. The naughty grin you’ll have as you leave it will only be matched by his beaming with excitement as he listens to it later.
12. Do a whole lot of nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is all you need to feel like you’re experiencing a little indulgence. Take a sick day and go to the cinema, or spend an entire Sunday lounging around in cozy pajamas and slippers.
13. Pay it forward. Instead of silently grumbling about the brusque barista or rolling your eyes in exasperation at your grumpy cubicle-mate, find something good to say and pay them a compliment. The more befuddled they look as they try to work out why you’re being so nice, the bigger your smile will become.
14. Set your DVR to record a few episodes of your favorite old-school cartoons to cheer yourself up.
15. Smile. Often, faking it until you make it actually works.
By Sharon Boone for Bright Smile Beautiful You
Sharon Boone is the former lifestyle editor at Fitness and has been on staff at Essence, Glamour, Seventeen and Woman’s Day. Her work has also appeared in Health, Natural Health and InStyle Weddings.
Quiz: What’s Your Self-confidence Style?
Are you someone who relies on outside opinions to make you smile, or does finishing a project on your own get you grinning? Take our quiz to learn your style and boost your mood.
1) When starting a new project, I normally:
A. Dive right in without doing a ton of research
B. Prepare to learn and challenge myself
C. Get nervous about embarking on unchartered territory
D. Procrastinate. I can get the whole thing done more effectively when it’s closer to the deadline
2) To stay motivated, I:
A. Focus on winning
B. Remind myself how good it will feel to succeed
C. Need someone to tell me I’m doing a good job
D. Just try not to screw up
3) In social situations I tend to:
A. Entertain the crowd with my hilarious stories
B. Listen to others and talk equally
C. Wait for others to strike up conversation with me
D. I’m more of a one-on-one type of talker
4) When I’m criticized, I usually:
A. Get defensive — I generally think I don’t deserve it
B. Try not to take it personally and use it as feedback to improve things in the future
C. Feel embarrassed
D. Internally criticize myself even more
5) If I’m confused about something, I:
A. Confused? I’m never confused!
B. Ask lots of questions
C. Try not to let on. I don’t want anyone to think I don’t know what
D. Am afraid of what will happen if I speak up
Mostly A’s: The Overdoer
The good news? You’re not lacking in self-confidence. The not-so-good news? You may be overdoing it. You’re so sure of your abilities that you tend to rush into things and skip the prep steps.
Success depends on being able to admit that you don’t already have all the answers and being willing to learn as you go. That means asking lots of questions and listening to other people — even if they’re criticizing you. If you’re always trying to win something, you’ll constantly be setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, focus on the pride and happiness you’ll feel once you accomplish each task.
Mostly B’s: The Go-getter
Happiness and self-confidence go hand-in-hand — and you have a lot to smile about! Instead of comparing yourself to others, you’re great at forging your own way. You know that you’re not the best at everything, but you’re not afraid to try new angles in order to achieve your goals. Continue to listen to the people around you and learn from them. You’ll keep on achieving — and smiling.
Mostly C’s: The Pleaser
Your self-confidence level is stable, but it could use a bit of a boost. You tend to rely on positive feedback to know you’re doing a good job, but in order to truly be happy, it’ll be best to learn how to self-motivate. Change your thinking: You’re not striving to do well on that project just to please your boss — you’re doing it for that huge sense of pride you’ll feel knowing you did an amazing job.
Scared to try something new? Absorb all the information and use it to become a better, more knowledgeable you. Make little changes to help you feel more outgoing — studies have shown that being physically fit, having good posture and even carrying a lucky charm upped people’s confidence, lowered their stress levels and helped them perform better.
Mostly D’s: The Avoider
Have more faith in yourself! You tend to assume that you can’t accomplish your goals or shine at parties, so you hold back and avoid taking risks. But if you challenge yourself more, you’ll actually find yourself much happier. Instead of focusing on seemingly insurmountable tasks, set small goals along the way so you get to revel in our own success more often.
Make an effort to put yourself out there more often: Say “yes” to social invitations, ask questions when you’re confused. If you get criticism or fail at something, reflect on the situation and figure out what you can learn from it to do better next time. You have so many strengths — celebrate them!
By Elena Donovan Mauer for Bright Smile Beautiful You
Elena Donovan Mauer has written for Self, The Knot, iVillage.com and DailyGlow.com. She is the coauthor of two books on relationships, The Good Girl’s Guide to Living in Sin and Have Sex Like You Just Met … No Matter How Long You’ve Been Together.
Ever fall asleep thinking about a project at work and wake up the next day with a splitting headache and pain in your jaw? Or been on the go with the kids all day and ended up with stomach cramps and a bad case of the runs? Don’t blame it on the weather or bad luck! It could be your body’s way of saying you’re too stressed out.
Headaches and stomach problems are among several seemingly mundane ailments that could signify you’re under too much tension in your life, says Dr. Kenneth L. Savage Jr., an osteopathic physician at the University Community Hospital Physician Care Group in Tampa, Fla. “It’s normal to have some level of stress,” he says. “When it becomes abnormal — or your body can’t handle it — that’s when things start to happen.”
In the worst-case scenario, stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, mood disorders and other issues. But it can also be the source of more common health issues. Do any of these sound familiar?
Argh! My skin’s so itchy!
A sudden outbreak of hives or a rash can be a sign of tension (assuming you haven’t walked into a patch of poison ivy recently). Stress taxes your body by causing its energy to funnel away from the immune system, says Savage. This can lead to the abnormal release of inflammatory substances in your skin — and suddenly, you’re scratching away. Too much tension in your life can also worsen rashes you’re already susceptible to, such as allergy-related dermatitis or the itchy scalp and greasy dandruff of seborrheic dermatitis.
Try: An outdoor walk or bike ride. “A little bit of sunlight and exercise can be healthy,” says Savage. Moderate sun exposure provides your body with vitamin D, and it can improve your mood and well-being. Staying active also benefits your circulatory and immune systems.
Yuck! A cold sore!
Tingling on your lip, then an ugly, crusty red blister … you know it’s another cold sore, and right before an important meeting at work too! Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. Although the initial infection comes through direct contact with someone who has the virus, recurrences can crop up when you’re under stress because your immune system isn’t strong enough to fight it off.
Try: Saying no once in a while. “Manage stress by controlling the source of the stress,” says Savage. If your workload is weighing you down, talk to your boss about delegating some tasks. If all those school fundraisers are taking up too much time, remember that you don’t have to volunteer for all of them.
Achoo! I’m sick again!
Sure, you’re bound to catch a cold every so often — especially when everyone in your office has the sniffles. But you’re more likely to come down with a runny nose and scratchy throat when your body is already run down by an overactive schedule or lack of sleep.
Try: Getting your z’s. Adequate sleep doesn’t just make you feel refreshed in the morning; it also boosts your immunity and makes you less prone to picking up your coworkers’ or kids’ colds. Go to bed an hour earlier and see what a difference it makes.
Ugh! My stomach hurts!
How we care for our bodies while under stress can cause as many problems as the stress itself. If you’re so busy shuttling the kids to dance class and baseball practice that you’re skipping meals or grabbing fast food all the time, that’s a formula for stomach upset, diarrhea or constipation.
Try: Planning ahead. Shop on Sunday for a week’s worth of healthy meals, including dishes you can serve as leftovers the next day. Knowing you have the dinner situation under control is one less thing to stress out about. Keep fruit, plain yogurt and other nutritious snacks in the fridge so you can grab them and go.
Ow! My jaw’s so sore!
Stress doesn’t magically end at the end of the day. Going to bed with worries on your mind may lead you to clench or grind your teeth while you sleep — a condition called bruxism. If you often wake up with an aching jaw, head or ear, or if your teeth seem worn or chipped, see your dentist. He may prescribe a mouth guard or suggest ways to keep your mouth relaxed at night.
Try: Winding down before hitting the sack. Practice 10 minutes of yoga, listen to soft music or read a book so your dreams stay sweet and stress-free. You may also want to look into a process called biofeedback, which trains people to watch and use signals from their bodies. It’s been shown to be useful in some bruxism cases, according to Tampa Bay Jaw and Facial Surgery.
Bad habits aren’t limited to things like nail biting and procrastination. For women, one of the most common and insidious habits is being overly critical or judgmental of themselves. What’s worse, a pattern of self-criticism can become so ingrained, you might not even notice you’re doing it.
“It’s a huge issue for women,” says Alice Domar, who has a doctorate in health psychology and is the author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect. “We criticize ourselves from morning to night, and all that negative self-talk puts you at risk for depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.”
You can learn to silence your inner critic and become more accepting of yourself, however. Start with these strategies:
1. Listen to yourself.
The first step is to recognize when you’re engaging in negative self-talk. Decide to spend a day tuned into your thoughts about yourself and jot down every comment. That night, count how many are negative.
Seeing in ink how many times you call yourself a bad mother or berate your lack of diet willpower helps you realize just how critical you’re being. “It’s a big wake-up call,” says Domar.
2. Be honest.
Now that you’re better tuned in, when you “hear” criticism, ask yourself four questions, says Domar: “Is this thought logical? Is it true? Does this thought contribute to my stress? Where did it come from?” In most cases, your answers will be, “No, it’s not logical or true. Yes, it stresses me out.” And the thought originally came from a former boss, a judgmental relative or a mean teacher you had in high school.
By paying attention to and dissecting the criticism in this way, you can better realize that the criticism isn’t valid. And that’s a crucial first step toward stopping it.
3. Avoid the comparison game.
Comparing yourself to others doesn’t do anything but make you feel bad. It’s unfair and damaging to reprimand yourself because you’re not as thin as one friend or as organized as another. “There will always be someone who will exceed you in some part of life,” says Pauline Wallin, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has written Taming Your Inner Brat.
Instead, focus on what you do right. Recognize, for example, that you’re a great multitasker or can manage a complex project efficiently — and ignore that you’re not a pro networker like your colleague. You’ll feel better about yourself, which helps you succeed in the long run.
4.Look at the big picture.
So what if your house isn’t immaculate? Who cares that you lost your keys? Will beating yourself up change anything in the grand scheme of things?
It’s important not to get caught up in minor details. Instead, think about what’s really important: You may not spend time scrubbing your floors, but you do spend time with your kids, and they are healthy, well-adjusted and love you, for example.
5. Get a second opinion.
“People hold themselves to much higher standards than they do others,” says Domar. So when you start getting beat down, talk to a trusted friend to get a needed reality check.
Another’s voice will help you see things from an outsider’s more accepting perspective. She’ll help you realize all the things you’re doing well in your life and that nobody thinks you’re a bad mother, woman, employee — whatever! Your criticisms will soon seem as silly and unwarranted as they actually are.
6. Decide to stop being negative.
After a while, you will start to recognize when you’re about to be (or are being) too hard on yourself. When you do, stop yourself — literally, says Domar. Visualize a stop sign, take slow, deep breaths, then consciously make a choice not to be negative. Remember that you control your thoughts. It can be quite empowering to decide not to let them hurt you.
Try changing the subject in your head by shifting to something positive, such as an upcoming party or vacation. Changing the subject helps short-circuit negative thoughts immediately, says Wallin.
7. Keep a bravo journal.
Getting in the habit of recognizing success can help overtake negativity. So at the end of each day, take stock of what you did well and write it in a journal or share it with your partner. “A lot of us have been brought up to think bragging is bad,” says Domar. “But if you’ve accomplished something, recognize and share the good news.”
Whether you gave a stellar presentation at work or helped your daughter create an A-plus art project, seeing accomplishments in writing or hearing them in your own voice helps you think of yourself more positively every day. This will evict the inner critic, and a kinder commentator will move in — one who treats you with the respect you’re so good at giving others.
By Stacey Colino for Life & Beauty Weekly
Love Your Imperfections!
Are you striving to be perfect at work and at home? Do you freak out if the house isn’t spotless or if your memos aren’t masterpieces? Make 2011 the year you stop listening to your inner critic and start learning to love your imperfections.
“Perfectionism demands that you continually pursue validation — both inner and outer — to tell you that you’re OK,” says Kathy Caprino, a women’s career and life coach and author of Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power and Purpose. “You’ll find it hard to feel safe and worthy unless you’re achieving some invisible standard you’ve created.” It also takes a toll on your well-being. Jonathan Alpert, a New York City psychotherapist, says that perfectionism can lead to anxiety, mild depression and impaired relationships.
Follow this six-step plan and you’ll be less perfect — but also a lot less stressed!
1. Get your priorities straight.
2. Learn to be OK with good enough.
3. Rediscover the word “no.”
4. Give yourself a pep talk.
5. Watch your language.
6. Share your errors with others.
By Cynthia Hanson for Life & Beauty Weekly