Give Yourself a Break to Build Healthy Self-Confidence

November 14, 2012 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

You really need to give yourself a break. Research shows that we gain self-compassion and confidence when we go easier on ourselves, Learn how to take a break.

“I have to get it all done.” “I should have done, x, y, or z.” “If only I would have…” Any of these statements sound familiar? We live in a culture where having it all, and doing it all seems possible, and yet in reality, it is incredibly difficult to even get close. Going a million miles a minute to attempt to get our to-do lists done, or fit everything in to our already packed day is a set up for failure.

Give Myself a Break?! How Will I Get It All Done?

I was recently speaking to a client who said if she goes easy on herself she will lose sight of her goals, and become “lazy”. If she gave herself a break and allowed herself a day off from her diet, or a few hours to indulge in her favorite shows, it would be distracting, and she would become unmotivated.

I can see how this appears true, however, if we lose steam by not taking breaks to recharge or do the things are bodies are begging us for (sleep, relaxation, food, connection, and so on) we burn our and are faced with more self-loathing and less confidence in our abilities.

I too used to live in the mindset of “I have to do it all,” beating myself up when something wouldn’t get done, fit into my already crammed schedule, or went awry in my day. This mindset left me exhausted, and upset with myself for not following through with everything.

We are actually invalidating ourselves when we don’t listen to our needs. Maybe you skip the gym after a 12 hour workday, get take-out or you are running late (the traffic simply won’t move). When we try to do it all, we are setting ourselves up to fail, or at least fail in self-compassion and confidence. In fact, research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting we are not perfect is indicative of better health. People who have more self-compassion have lower levels of depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier overall.

Giving Yourself a Break Is Not Lowering Your Standards

Dr. Kristin Neff, a professor University of Texas at Austin and researcher on self-compassion, says self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards. For those who don’t give themselves a break, she reports that

They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be . . . When in reality, self-compassion is really conducive to motivation.

So when you care about yourself, and allow yourself some wiggle room, instead of beating yourself up, you actually make choices that are helpful and keep you aligned with your goals.

Give Yourself a Break! It’s Okay To . . .

Run late. It happens to everyone, and sometimes we really can’t plan for it, let it go.

Ignore your to-do list. Put away the to-do list and go do something for you.

Eat that cupcake. Your body is likely telling you something, its craving something because its lacking something. Eating perceived “bad” foods in moderation, versus beating yourself up for them is healthier, avoiding them all together will just lead to a binge later on.

Let it go. The past is over, what’s done is done. Make a list of all the things you cant forgive yourself or someone else for and burn it. Holding on to these past perceived failures is only holding you back from self-compassion, and taking hold of your energy for future tasks.

Take a nap or sleep late. Your body is telling you that it needs rest.

Say no. Sometimes we are unable to take on more or quite frankly don’t want to. This is okay, learn to assert yourself in these situations, it builds a stronger relationship with you, and often those who are asking respect you more.

Return a call or email tomorrow. This can be hard, but you are only one person, most people are more understanding than you are on yourself.

Skip the gym. If your body is tired, listen to it. Going to work out especially when you are feeling depleted can be hindering to your overall health. Find a reasonable amount of time per week and aim for that.

Turn off technology. Take a break from the computer; put your phone on silent for a little while.

Indulge in a guilty pleasure. Read a magazine, go shopping, watch that reality TV show, get out of your head temporarily.

Remember most things are okay in moderation. Balance is the key; having more self-compassion will build confidence in your abilities and within yourself. No one is perfect; we are all doing the best we can.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2012, November 14). Give Yourself a Break to Build Healthy Self-Confidence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

January, 21 2013 at 12:11 am

It's really to give that effort in achieving our goals but it's also true that we also need to take a break for our self. Thank you very helpful article. I looking forward see more tips from your site.

Leave a reply