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Welcome to this weekly online resource. Wellness professional Jo Foster, offers self care tips through her insights on mindfulness and positive psychology, her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations. 

This week we will begin considering how we can develop, preserve and enhance confidence. Enjoy!

Zoom Yoga has turned out to be a confidence booster for many of my Yoga students. Since taking yoga away from the studio and into the privacy of peoples homes most of my students have reported a "revolution" in their practice. They have become physically more balanced and have noticed a kinder approach to their time on the mat (and off).  Why has Zoom amplified this affect? Because the stronger, leaner, "bigger breather" is no longer on the mat next to them! In short, by removing them from the group setting, they have stopped competing and started to listen to their intuition.  

Psychologist Leon Festinger suggested that people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, often in comparison to others. We may compare ourselves to others in social, professional and physical contexts. 

Socially, we may let jealously or "one-up-manship" creep into relationships.

Professionally, we can loose a sense of fulfilment and drive in our careers when we determine that others are more capable or talented than ourselves. 

Physically, we can be brutally critical to ourselves when we constantly pick out our flaws in comparison to immaculate squares on social media or the "beautiful" friend.  

Comparisons in these ways damage self confidence.  

Is there such a thing as friendly competition?

Yes. Conversely, competition can be a motivator. Being inspired by another individual can help us make healthy re-evaluation of goals and positive changes in our attitudes.

 

Competitiveness at it's best, taps into our confidence and we use it to create feel-good moments and boost self esteem. Positive competition comes about when our intuition doesn't become clouded in comparison and we are able to keep a firm grasp on our own attributes. 

How do we cultivate a healthy competitive attitude?

If we eliminate comparing ourselves to others, we free ourselves from the stresses that it brings. In this "less stressed" state of mind, confidence and self esteem will likely grow. However, total elimination of comparison can reduce a potentially valuable motivator and tool for inspiration. Some of us thrive with a little healthy competition. So the first thing to understand is "are any areas of your life where you have developed destructive tendencies?" If so, how can you limit their deflating effects and even transform competitiveness into confidence. Here are a few suggestions:

1.Be altruistic

Turn your positive mental spotlight on to others. "We rise by lifting others" Robert Ingersoll. Recognising and promoting others attributes helps us improve feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism. Share meaningful compliments. The feeling that comes from adding value to others adds value in return through a sense of belonging and purpose. 

2. Count your blessings

"Even the score" in your head. When you find yourself making comparisons keep a firm grasp on your own triumphs, strengths and what you bring to the table. This will enable you to feel joy for others when they face victory without personal regret or defeat.

 

Try developing a gratitude practice to help you do this. When you wake up in the morning and before you close you eyes to sleep, think of 5 things each day that you are grateful for. This will help you shift your focus away from what you lack and the lives of others towards the blessings in your own life. 

3. Avoid toxic relationships

If there are people in your environment that belittle, judge and compare themselves to you, it may be preferable to create some distance from them. Where this isn't possible, ensure that you recognise that these behaviours are not personal to you but are rather a challenge that they are facing with their own self esteem. Being altruistic will help breaking the competitive cycle, lift them up willingly so they don't feel the need to clamber over you! A simple compliment goes along way. 

4. Choose the right role models

When you come across people, social media or sources that inspire you, seek to spend more time letting their influence into your life. 

If you have a personal goal that you are working towards, perhaps in your career or health, seek out a mentor or group that can support you, share in your values and in your successes. For example, when looking to improve health joining groups such as weight watchers or a sporting group can be very motivating and supportive. 

Mushroom Stroganoff by Sainsbury's Magazine

This is like comfort food to me. Try it with Brown rice for added texture and I also substitute the creme fraiche with an oat based cream, The oat flavour gives an extra "earthiness" to the dish. 

Mushrooms are high in Vitamin D and given that many of us are deficient in this particular vitamin due to our indoor lifestyles we should all be adding more of this into our diet.