A lovely reader recently tweeted at LU, asking that I write a piece about confidence and those "ugly" days that can make a girl feel so lost. I love being given inspiration that knocks the writer's (or blogger's) block right outta my system.
We all have those days, don't we? Perhaps it starts off when your hair just won't cooperate or it seems like you have nothing to wear. You feel like sliding into your sweatpants, jumping back into bed, and pulling the covers over your head---hoping to not see the light of day for just 24 hours. Often, it comes down to something more than a bad hair day and outward appearance. Usually, it's emotion at the core. Sometimes you just don't feel lovely. Sometimes you feel a little lost. Well, consider this your special pep talk from Lovely Undergrad. I've rounded up my favorite ways to turn that frown upside down, to turn that slouch into a strut, and to turn a lost day of feeling "ugly" into a rescued day of happiness and confidence.
1. Coffee. Studies show (forgive me, I misplaced the source---but I've read this all over lately in several magazines) that women who drink three cups of coffee daily are less prone to feelings of depression. So roll outta bed, put on the coffee pot, and get some java pumping through your veins.
2. Eat breakfast. Whip yourself up something special. Or make your regular feel special. Make a delicious omelet or French toast. Or eat your cereal out of a pretty porcelain bowl with the fanciest spoon from your drawer. Make the ordinary feel a little extraordinary.
3. Get moving. Whether you hit the gym, take a short jog, or work out a little in the comfort of your dorm/apartment... exercise gives you endorphins. And we all know Elle Woods' wise words: "And endorphins make you happy." I know, I know. The thought of working out doesn't always make you happy. But you do feel sooo good afterward!
4. Get Pretty. When you're having an "ugly" day, it's hard to resist the urge to just go with it. But put a little extra effort forth---not by overdoing it (we don't wanna see club makeup at class!) but by trying something new and fresh. Put a flower clip at the base of your ponytail. Put on some pink lip gloss. Paint your nails a bright color. Forget the sweatpants and reach for a sundress instead. Wear what makes you feel good---that go-to item that always makes you feel like a million bucks. There's never any harm in getting all dolled up.
5. Smile. And keep smiling. It sounds so simple and almost too good to be true. But smile! At yourself and at others. It feels good when people will smile back. And smiling just makes you feel good.
6. Tune in. Make a happy playlist to groove to on days where you need that extra boost. Play it while you get around in the morning. Sing along in the car. Blast it in your ear buds as you walk to class. Music can have a ginormous effect on mood, so pick your tunes wisely. Resist the urge to match your crummy mood with slow, sad, forlorn melodies.
7. Stop comparing. Don't look at other girls and wish you had her hair, her outfit, her body. Don't compare yourself to others and don't let envy seep into your mindset. Focus on being the best possible version of yourself. You'd be surprised at who wishes they could be walking in your shoes.
8. Satin, lace, and frills. This one may sound silly, but slip into your prettiest bra or sexiest pair of panties. Just for you. Even if you're wearing a t-shirt and jeans---just secretly knowing that you have the cutest little unmentionables underneath will give you an extra boost of confidence. So skip the sports bra and fasten on that lacy little pink number that makes you feel like a femme fatale.
9. Splurge. Treat yourself to something during the day. It doesn't have to be something outrageous or extravagant. An ice cream cone. A sparkly bracelet. A pristine new journal. Indulging a little reminds yourself that you're special and you're worth it. Just don't go on a shopping binge that will leave you broker and sadder than ever in the morning when you find yourself with an inflated closet and depleted bank account.
10. Straighten up. Out with the slouch! Maintaining good posture while sitting and walking with your head held high and shoulders back projects to the world that you're confident---even if you just aren't feeling it that day. Playing the part eventually rubs off on you a little and you'll start to feel the confidence creep back in.
11. Enjoy yourself. When you start feeling really down in the dumps, take a break. Do something you enjoy. Pick up that pageturner and take in a chapter. Whip up a quick craft. Browse the campus art gallery for a few minutes. Relax under a tree on campus and people watch.
12. Give back. An instant mood booster is helping someone else out. Don't get caught up your own self-loathing so much that you forget others that may be worse off. Help out a friend in need. Volunteer your time and energy. Hold the door open for someone else every time.
13. Be polite. You may feel like grumbling or giving the world the silent treatment, but force yourself to at least mind your p's and q's when it comes to etiquette. Saying "please" and "thank you" will make you appear and feel more pleasant.
14. Be nice. Make it a goal to give out 10 or 20 compliments during the day. Wondering why on earth you'd want to compliment others on a day you feel so crappy? Believe it or not, making others feel good will in turn make you feel good. And you'll probably get some compliments back that will boost your confidence as well.
15. Aromatherapy. Did you know certain scents can lend themselves to improving your mood? Lavender can be relaxing and soothing if you're all stressed out and feeling frazzled. The fragrance of mint is said to be mood-lifting. Citrus is invigorating and energizing. Even just spritzing on a favorite perfume can have a beneficial effect on your outlook.
16. Flower power. Buy yourself flowers. Seriously--why not? Sure, chocolates might make you happy, too... but there's something fresh and fun and wonderful about a bouquet of roses. You don't have to invest in a fancy arrangement from the florist. Just pick up a cheap bunch from the supermarket. Display them in a pretty vase in your room. It will add instant cheer, life, and loveliness to your space.
17. Don't sweat the small stuff. So what if you make a mistake? So what if you're a little clumsy? So what if you embarrass yourself? Let it go. Don't fret over it or dwell on it. Laugh it off. If you must, cry a little. But then move onward to bigger and better things.
18. Happy thoughts. The more positive you think, the more positive you'll feel. (And vice versa.) So don't fill your head with ugly thoughts---stressing about your muffin-top, your bad hair day, etc. When you're feeling down, it's more important than ever to focus on the things you love about yourself: your dimples, your big smile, your elegant neck, your well-manicured toes. Whatever little thing you love about yourself (everyone has something!) put an extra amount of importance on it on the days where your confidence needs some fluffing up.
19. Happy place. In addition to above, go to your happy place. Visualize what makes you happy. When you start feel the glum feelings seep in, call to mind memories of that recent beach vacation. Recall fun times had with friends. Picture your favorite place in the world--your room, your haven, your favorite corner of the library, or an open field.
20. Simple pleasures. It's the little things in life that can add up to making a big difference. So stop and smell the roses. Don't underestimate the power of finding a quarter on the ground or having a bunny hop across your path on the way to class. Take pleasure in the wonder and beauty of everyday life.
21. Define yourself. Don't exert yourself trying to prove yourself or your worth to others. Don't try to fit in to their expectations of what you should be. Instead, create yourself. Get to know yourself and strive to be true to yourself. When others see the love you have for yourself, they can't help but respect and love you, too. And if they don't, well then... they don't matter. Surround yourself with those who support and encourage you being the real you.
22. Daydream a little. There's no harm in letting you mind wander off into imagining a sweet flirt session with that cute guy from chem lab. There's no shame in looking up from your textbook to scout out the hotties in the library. Indulge in some eye candy.
23. Heavy petting. Apparently, petting an animal is good for the soul. It's said that petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure. So if you have a pet, give it extra love and attention on your down days. If you don't, offer to take a friend's dog for a walk or pay a visit to the pet store to adore some some bunnies and go gaga over a too-cute-for-words hedgehog.
24. Find peace. If you're feeling overwhelmed, find some quiet time. If you're religious, use it to pray or meditate. If you're not, use it as a moment to relax and refocus. Repeat in your mind a mantra. Reinforce your positive traits, your deserving of happiness, your favorite memories.
25. Laugh. It really is the best medicine. (And it's a good calorie burner, too!)
26. Phone a friend. You know that friend or family member who is really a life saver---or just a mood saver in general? Pick up the phone and dial them up. Whether they make you burst at the seams with outlandish jokes or make you feel good about yourself by reminding you how much they miss you, take it all in. Chat them up to feel better in no time. (Note: texting and im'ing doesn't cut it. Voices are best. And in-person, if you can swing it, is even better.)
27. Bake. Cake, cupcakes, pie, cookies, whatever... put on your apron and get your Betty Crocker on. Dessert sweetens life up, so don't keep it all to yourself. Decorate your concoctions with frosting, sprinkles, and icing. Share the sugar by passing out the goodies to roommates and friends.
28. Un-plug. Cut some of the tech ties. Sitting for hours on your laptop, pouring over friends' tweets and status updates that make them appear to live perfect lives full of surprise birthday parties, shopping sprees, and perfect boyfriends will do little to improve your mood. It will only cause you to compare or envy. (And we talked all about that up above.)
29. Get some zzzz's. Pulling all nighters and running on empty will not only cause unsightly dark circles under your eyes, but the fatigue will also wear down your mental sharpness and positive outlook. Get some sleep. Take a power nap here and there if you need one. It's good for your health and for your mood.
30. Remember the words of Scarlett O'Hara---"Tomorrow is another day!" So you may be feeling a little down, a little "ugly", a little lost today. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start full of new possibilities. If you need to complain or whine a little, get it out of your system. But start fresh in the morning. Stand tall, smile, and think positively all over again.
And if all else fails, come to Lovely Undergrad and hang out here a while. :)