Over the last few months, I’ve seen a lot of clients experiencing stress, anxiety and feelings of low self-confidence since lockdown. Interestingly, these clients had lives prior to lockdown that were quite full, going about their normal daily routines. But since lockdown they’ve realised a fear of doing those normal things they took for granted, like driving, going out for a walk, shopping, even meeting friends. It’s a shock and quite confusing especially as we came out of lockdown around 2 years ago.
So why now?
How lockdown impacted self-confidence varied widely from person to person. For some people lockdown was a positive experience, full of opportunity, but for others the lockdown brought isolation and fear that led to a negative experience and impact on self-confidence.
Some people used lockdown for personal growth, self-reflection, personal development, focus on their physical and mental health, even using the time to acquire new skills and knowledge! They were able to navigate the challenges from lockdown to build levels of resilience and adaptability which may have increased their self-confidence and their ability to handle adversity.
But for others, the social isolation, loss of normal routines and uncertainty, economic stress and even health concerns may have led to feelings of loneliness and a decline in self-confidence, even for individuals who would normally thrive on social connections and external validation. Remember how we all jumped onto social media? It became easy to make social comparisons with what we saw and judged ourselves too harshly as falling short. It's no wonder self-confidence is knocked as a result.
Self-confidence is complex. Its influenced by our personality, life experiences and coping mechanisms. Lockdown may have had both positive and negative effects on self-confidence, but it's possible to rebuild and strengthen self-confidence. Here are 5 top hacks that can help:
Set Realistic Goals: Start by setting achievable goals that align with your interests, values, and aspirations. These goals should be specific, measurable, and time-bound. As you achieve them, you'll gain a sense of accomplishment and build confidence in your abilities.
Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind and compassionate toward yourself. Understand that it's okay to have moments of self-doubt or setbacks. Instead of being overly critical, treat yourself with the same empathy and encouragement that you would offer a friend facing a similar situation.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Gradually expose yourself to situations or challenges that make you slightly uncomfortable. This could involve attending social gatherings, volunteering for a project at work, or trying new activities. Each step outside your comfort zone can expand your confidence and resilience.
Self-Care Routine: Prioritize self-care practices that promote physical and mental well-being. This might include regular exercise, a balanced diet, mindfulness meditation, quality sleep, and relaxation techniques. When you feel physically and mentally healthy, your self-confidence can naturally improve.
Seek Support: Don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a therapist if you're struggling with self-confidence. Talking about your feelings and challenges can provide valuable insights and emotional support. A therapist can also offer tools and strategies to address specific confidence issues.
Remember that experiencing short term levels of stress and anxiety is normal. It doesn't have to mean long term mental health issues. However, if these feelings persist, or become overwhelming, or interfere with your daily life its time to get support from a mental health professional. Talking therapies can provide strategies to manage stress and anxiety helping you to adapt to the changing circumstances effectively.