Confidence at work: why are we all feeling so down on ourselves at the moment?

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It’s been a bizarre year, to say the least. And, as it turns out, for those of us whose new normal has been working from home, it has been having an unexpected affect. We asked Life coach Denise Bosque to explain why, and what we can do to boost our waning confidence. 

2020 has been a strange year for workers from all industries, with coronavirus restrictions having had a major impact on the ways in which just about all workplaces function. Particularly for those with desk jobs, whose weekdays are usually built around their nine-to-five stint in the office, the changes have been massive.

Working from home has become the new normal, meaning that interaction with colleagues is confined to chat windows and Zoom calls, and that work is done in isolation. As a result of these and other such changes, the Life Coach Directory has noted a whopping 74% increase in users searching for information on “confidence” since the onset of working from home back in March.

Life Coach Directory member Denise Bosque specialises in anxiety, and she believes that the uncertainty brought about by coronavirus has caused a crisis of confidence in the UK, particularly amongst workers. 

“I know it’s an overused word, but ‘uncertain’ is really how most of the human race is feeling currently”, Denise says. But while life before the pandemic offered people opportunities to get out, do more and interact with people as a means of overcoming their anxieties, the current situation means that many who are struggling with feelings of uncertainty are hiding away. “Consequently, their resilience goes right down as their fear rockets and their confidence plummets”.

It’s much easier to be evasive when it comes to work in particular these days, and to get caught up in your own worries as a result. As Denise explains, “working from home can compound loss of confidence because you are always second-guessing what others are doing or what is expected of you”. The fact that there is little to no social interaction in many workplaces these days only serves to make this worse. 

Job losses and losing confidence

But it’s not just the new ways of working that have caused a drop in confidence amongst workers. Because of the economic upheaval caused by coronavirus, people who once felt secure in their jobs are now facing a great deal of uncertainty. According to Denise, “at work, people are now wondering, ‘am I next in line for redundancy? Will they cut my hours? And if they do, what will happen next?’”. 

A woman experiencing burnout
Confidence at work: people who once felt secure in their jobs are now facing a great deal of uncertainty.

For those who do lose their jobs, a drop in confidence is to be expected. Denise mentions that one of her recent clients “lost her job, and then got another one and lost that”. While the current economic climate means that job losses are far more common, it can be all too easy to get down on yourself in the face of something so potentially life-altering. Her client certainly took a hit, feeling “bereft of confidence” as she started to question whether she was “good enough”.

But in order to put yourself out there in the best way possible and perform at your best, both in life and in job interviews, it’s important to work at increasing your confidence and self-worth. It may seem almost impossible at times, but there are always things you can do to give yourself a boost.

Top tips on giving your confidence a boost when working from home

While it may not be all that easy to claw back confidence in such a strange period, Denise has plenty of tips that you can incorporate into your everyday that will give your confidence a lift when you need it most. 

When thinking about work, it’s important that you imagine yourself there “behaving calmly, confidently, and being in control, while breathing deeply at the same time”, says Denise. The more you do this, the more you will start to feel that sense of confidence seeping into your actual working day, because “your mind doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined event”.

If you find yourself worrying about a big meeting or something else important in your working day, “make sure your body language is good, and look up and smile”, ensuring you stay engaged. This will help you to access “the part of the brain that just makes you feel that bit more confident and positive”, and will interrupt your the patterns of thought that cause you to feel down on yourself. 

A woman practicing mindfulness
Confidence at work: Denise often tells her clients to “take a big step back”.

Denise will also often tell her clients to “take a big step back”. She teaches them various techniques that will help them soothe themselves, because “you can’t do anything with a mind and body soaked in adrenaline”. And, “even though the tips may sound simple, do not underestimate them – they work”:

  1. “Do deep belly breathing, through the nose and slower out through the mouth.”
  2. “Listen to a meditation or hypnosis audio on confidence.”
  3. “Get out in nature more than once a day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes at a time.”
  4. “Make (or get someone you know) to make a confidence-boosting, stress-busting audio to listen to before bed. It’s what I do for my clients.”
  5. “Try to get yourself into a calmer state. This will make it easier to see things from a clearer perspective, and to ask yourself if there really is anything wrong right now.” 

“People have so much more power than they realise to change their attitude and mindset. Often they just need to be shown all the different methods and find a few that work for them”, says Denise.  

If working from home is taking its toll on your mental health, you’re not alone. From the isolation of being separated from colleagues and the stress of communicating via technology to the threat of redundancy and the anxiety of applying for a new job, there are a number of reasons why you might find this time particularly challenging.

So, what can we do about it? We’ve got a plan.

Our new Work It Out campaign, supported by Mind, aims to give you the tools and resources you need to take care of your mental health while you’re stuck at home. From completing your Work 5 A Day to dealing with issues including to anxiety, loneliness and stress, we’ll be exploring all aspects of wellbeing during this strange time.

For more information, including how to complete your Work 5 A Day, you can check out our guide to getting started.

Images: Getty

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