New Semester, New Mindset: Projecting Confidence
With the beginning of 2023 comes another fresh start: the winter semester. Excusing the few full-term courses, many students are hopping into new classes with new professors, new syllabi, and new to-do lists. Although the first week of school often provides a small solace in the shorter classes and lack of due-dates, starting off strong can have an impact on the rest of the semester.
High confidence has a strong influence on work performance, mood, energy, and general happiness. Although it is easy to strive for all of these things, they are much harder to actually accomplish—especially once the semester kicks up. That being said, it is possible, and even the smallest steps forward can have a great influence on your life. So, here is a list of small, achievable steps you can take toward boosting self-confidence among other qualities that can have a positive impact on the entire semester.
Take Care of Basic Needs
It may seem obvious, but studies find that most university students are not sleeping enough or eating well. Sleep and appetite have huge effects on energy, mood, and cognitive abilities. Although it may seem necessary to push that bedtime and eat microwavable meals in order to catch up on readings, doing so may leave you feeling even worse, especially after several days. Sometimes going to bed early and leaving the readings for tomorrow can actually have the best outcome. Enforcing favourable eating habits and an adequate sleep schedule on a regular basis will have even greater effects on your wellbeing, and with the boosted energy and mood will come greater confidence as you go through your day.
Treat Yourself Well
Treating yourself well goes above taking care of basic needs and ventures into the realm of extra pampering. By actively practicing self-care and not framing it as a treat you only deserve sometimes, you will begin to develop higher self-compassion and, as a result, higher confidence with a reduced likelihood of burnout. I have found that doing at-home spa-nights leads to growth in my relationship with myself and my body, and generally makes me feel more refreshed. Taking a night to watch a movie, drink tea, do facemasks, hair masks, and exfoliate with the explicit purpose of treating myself makes me feel great then and the following day.
Dress to Impress… Yourself
This recommendation comes from personal experience: during a particularly hard set of days, going above and beyond to dress up and look amazing makes me feel amazing. There’s something invigorating about wearing your favourite outfit, styling your hair, and applying makeup and moisturizer (if that is what makes you feel good). Looking good makes you feel good, and externally presenting confidence can actually help you feel it. Doing this may even give you the extra boost to contribute more in class or tackle your readings with the utmost energy. This may not be doable every day, but doing it when you can is another way to treat yourself.
Surround Yourself with Goodness
Whether it be friends, hobbies, or décor, surrounding yourself with what makes you feel good will positively impact you in the long-run. It is important for your mental health to surround yourself with genuine friends; the type of people who make you feel better about yourself. The little comments and feelings sink in over time, so whether it’s texting a long-distance friend or getting a coffee between classes, these little circumstances matter. On top of relationships, making time for hobbies you care about and decorating your house with items of significance will genuinely have an impact on how you feel day-to-day. These impacts can lead to better moods which in turn can lead to higher self-confidence and performance as well.
Pay Attention to your Thoughts
My final suggestion is to analyze the way you talk to, and think about, yourself. If you notice many self-deprecating thoughts, this may be a sign that you are lacking self-compassion and sabotaging your own confidence. The worse you treat yourself, the worse you’ll feel, and the harder it will be to power through difficult classes and assignments. By noticing these comments when you think about them, you can begin to challenge them. Perhaps take each comment and reframe it in a way to encourage growth and understanding. Instead of blaming yourself, ask what this situation can do to help you in the future. And maybe while you're at it, remind yourself that as a human being you will make mistakes, we all do. It’s part of life. It doesn’t mean we can’t grow from them and even become more confident as a result.
Many of these suggestions will mostly impact how you feel on a day-to-day basis, but what many people may not realize is that quality-of-life impacts confidence as much as confidence impacts quality of life. By implementing one or more of these suggestions you may notice some significant effects. I’ve personally struggled with every one of these recommendations myself but have found that I’m happiest and do best in school when other areas of my life are fulfilled. So, with these suggestions as a starting off point, I wish you good luck with the new semester!