For most, waking up everyday feeling empowered and confident is not natural. Many fight biting anxiety and crises of confidence several times a day. However, there are certain daily practices you can commit yourself to in order to make yourself feel strong, capable, and worthy.
Many women find self-worth through a daily commitment to exercise. Before diving into this any further, let’s clarify that self-value through exercise is not a result of reaching a number on a scale or fitting into a certain size jeans. Rather, it stems from knowing that you have the power to challenge yourself everyday and come out on the other side.
Many kids are encouraged to participate on sports or dance teams as a way of making friends, staying active and, just as importantly, building up their senses of self-esteem. Sports force kids to challenge their own set of preconceived notions and capabilities; when they realize that they can run the mile in a certain time, make the free-throw, or land the jump, their perspective of the world, and themselves, opens up. Additionally, playing on a sports team is often one of the earliest encounters kids have with the notion that working hard leads to positive results. Competing on structure sports teams, even if it is just for fun, cultivates dedication and perseverance. Kids aren’t necessarily putting pressure on themselves to become the next LeBron James or Serena Williams; they’re able to focus on the present moment and the sense of fulfillment they feel from practicing and mastering a new physical skill.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, most people stop playing sports, or stop allowing themselves to find joy in sports. Whether it’s when they realize they likely won’t be the next Olympic phenom or when they decide they can better prepare themselves for the future by focusing on school or career. Along the path from teen to young adult, sports and fitness are often the first activities sacrificed to make room for more pressing life responsibilities.
But young adulthood might actually be the worst time to throw in the towel on exercise and sports. Navigating the transition into early adulthood is with uncertainty and fear. Most people, even if they won’t admit it, don’t really know who they are or what they want out of life. They’re in the midst of trying to manage adult tasks like repaying student loans and saving for a home, all without a blueprint to follow. While getting out of bed everyday to run three miles or take a yoga class might not reveal the right career path or relationship choice, it will enable you to build confidence within yourself.
It’s true that many adults start a diet and fitness routine as a means of feeling better about their appearance, but there are so many benefits beyond vanity that come from committing yourself to a healthy lifestyle.
We live in an age of competition and comparison. It’s hard not to spend every waking minute ruminating about how a colleague or social media celebrity looks better, has more money, or seems happier. But when you exercise, you give your brain a much-needed mental reprieve from all of that unproductive mind chatter. While punching a bag or balancing in crow pose, you’re likely not thinking about what you don’t have in life, and instead focused on you and your body in the present moment.
In addition to offering yourself a daily mental vacation, a regular fitness habit can also reinstate your faith in yourself. Life, rarely (if ever) goes as planned, and early adulthood is filled with disappointments and setbacks. It’s easy to feel like the happiness you envisioned for yourself as a kid has already escaped and you’re destined for a life of mediocrity. But when you make the decision to wake up everyday and move your body, you prove to yourself just how in control of your life you really are. Daily exercise means making the hard choice, suffering through uncomfortable moments, and coming out on the other side both physically and mentally. Exercise is proof of your own agency; if you want to run a half marathon in two hours, it’s up to you to train for months. If you want to feel confident about your appearance at your best friend’s wedding, it’s in your control to make choices every day to get you one step closer to feeling your best. Exercise is physical proof that you are powerful enough to make the life you want for yourself.