York, UK

Social anxiety, building confidence. It's a taboo subject. There's a lot of people in the world today (including in my circle) that think it's just something that you can just get over - that nerves are always temporary. But it's not that simple; it takes years just to figure out coping techniques. My family and closest friends know that I sometimes struggle with social anxiety - for me, it comes to a head when I meet new people that I don't know. "Will I make a good impression? What do I talk about? What if they don't like me? Oh no, now I'm being rude by not talking much!" It's like a million and one thoughts run through my mind. As soon as I've chatted to that new person and got to know them it's fine, it's just the lead up and awkward small talk that gives me such a surge of anxiety.

Over the years I've come to find ways to help act as a coping mechanism, to make me feel more confident and overcome these personal obstacles. It has helped me a lot, from large scale work presentations to cool blogger events - so, I thought I would share with you my top tips to help you feel that little bit more confident....

1) Accept yourself. I'm not perfect. I'm not a size 6, got stereotypical big boobs or perky bum. I've got thunder thighs, tiger stripes and, to quote White Chicks, 'Tina the talking tummy'. Because challenge me or not, it's important to feel good about yourself, as it reflects the way you portray yourself to others. 

I've come to realise of late I am who I am, and people around me genuinely like me, for me. I had such bad body confidence issues in the past and to be honest, still do. Yes, I go to the gym and eat healthy, but it didn't make me truly happy. I started to dread going to the gym, I hated giving up chocolate when I was stressed out at work and needed indulgence. Since I let go of that and decided to try going to the gym 3 times a week and make an effort to leave sweet treats to the weekend, I've noticed my body change a little instead of going up and down constantly - and I've become happier for it. That in turn has reflected my confidence - because you have to accept yourself to truly be confident.

2) Kill negative thoughts and think positive. A prime example of this would be public speaking & presentations. They used to absolutely terrify me and I still get the jitters to this day - who doesn't?! But a motivational speaker at University literally changed my life and made me more confident. One of his top tips was when you're in the chair or standing up whatever, before you're about to present - don't think 'Sh*t! Sh*t! omg, everyone's looking at me! I'm gonna do crap!' Let go of that, kill them negative thoughts and literally inject some positivity into your brain. Think 'I CAN do this' and smile! Someone may smile back at you in the audience to give you that little bit of encouragement. Honestly, this thought process works wonders. 

3) Be kind to others. You may think, how does this help me with my self-confidence? Well for starters, it's so important because it defines who you are. I always try to be kind to other people, as not only does it improve your self-image, but it makes people like you and want to return the favour. In the future you'll never know what opportunities may come along from people you meet, and even the tiniest bit of kindness could give you a big career boost or a new mate for life - therefore, helping out with the underlying confidence issue. 

4) Knowledge is key. Watch the news, get to know about social issues. It gives you something to talk about to people in the office, not just resorting to chit chat about the weather that day. It sounds so simple, but honestly? Having a couple of conversation starters racked up in your mind will help ease the tension and make it easier to be, well, social. 

5) Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. I always go by this motto, because it's so true. Someone once told me this and I've stuck by it for years. You have to be prepared in life - got that big presentation coming up? Prepare for it. Rehearse it so you know what to say and what slide comes next. It sounds daft, but knowing how to act around others beforehand, seriously helps you in the long run. You don't look stupid for not knowing your stuff and feel confident enough to talk about the topic at hand.  

Meeting a new person? Same goes, if they're a friend of your friend, get the background info. For example, I had to meet a new group of girls at the weekend who I didn't know at all as it was my friend's birthday. She told me that one of them was going travelling, so I used that as a conversation started to talk to this new person, who ending up chatting away for a good hour about Thailand and Vietnam. You come to learn that people love to talk about themselves and like a good listener - so knowing little snippets of information will help your confidence massively. 

What are your tips to feeling more confident?
Did this post help you?
As always, let me know!
Lots of love,
Hannah xoxo


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