How to Feel More Confident at Work (Even When You’re Totally Sleep Deprived)

A mom recently reached out to me for help, because her 7-year-old son was battling nighttime anxiety. Not only did he struggle to fall asleep at a reasonable hour most nights, but he also experienced nightmares several times a week. He was exhausted. She was exhausted. The sleep deprivation her son endured triggered her own sleep deprivation. She worried about him long after he finally fell asleep each night, and that worry trickled into her day.

During one of our calls, the mom admitted that she felt like her work was suffering as a result of her exhaustion, which made sense. It’s hard to feel confident at work when you’re sleep deprived, since sleep deprivation can impair your ability to concentrate, make decisions, and focus, as well as diminish your attention span and lead to low self-esteem. Other significant consequences of sleep deprivation include:

  • Symptoms of depression
  • Short and long-term memory deficits
  • Poor planning and executive function
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Substance abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in America are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. If you’re one of them, the good news is that there are ways to combat the effects of sleep deprivation and feel more confident at work. Try some of these strategies:

1. Get up and move. If you start to feel sluggish at a certain time every day, it’s probably because you spend a lot of time sitting and your body responds by shutting down. Exercise, even in short bursts, can get jolt your brain back to active mode and boost your mood. That small mood boost can trigger a feeling of confidence and competence. Jog in place, do some jumping jacks and push ups, or head outside for a 10-minute stroll to recharge your batteries and inspire positive emotions.

2. Set small daily goals. Sometimes big projects can feel all consuming and difficult to manage. One strategy that can decrease that feeling of helplessness in the face of an enormous to-do list at work is to create a smaller daily schedule that includes manageable benchmarks. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know. Setting small goals and taking mini breaks as you cross them off helps you stay on task and work at an appropriate pace. This simple strategy can translate to a big boost in confidence as you work through your daily goals.

3. Take your water break with a colleague. Believe me, I understand, the thing you want the most when you’re running on empty is the largest coffee available. A better strategy to keep your brain active is to refuel with water and good conversation. Schedule a water break with a colleague and put a ban on work talk for 10 minutes to check out for a bit. When we get caught up with what we’re doing and we’re glued to screens at the same time, we neglect self-care. Walking away from your desk to chat with another human about the weather, the kids, or the latest baseball game might be just the break you need to get over the slump and fuel your confidence.

4. Reorganize your desk. A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind. The fact is that when you have tons of papers, objects, and photos in your line of sight, your brain is easily distracted. It shifts focus rapidly to process everything within sight. Organize your desk, and your desktop, to decrease distraction and increase your efficiency. You know that rush you get when you finish a project and cross off the last item on your to-do list? You’ll experience that particular confidence boost more often if you remain focused at work.

5. Keep a few positive affirmations in your desk. This small thing can give you a big confidence boost when you need it. Believing in yourself is an essential first step toward boosting your confidence in the workplace (and at home.) Get out the sticky notes and write down some positive thoughts. Something as simple as, “I can do this,” can keep you going when you lose your confidence. Keep them in your top drawer and stick them on your screen when you need some uplifting!

Balancing family life and work life and feeling confident in the process is no easy task. If you feel like you’re falling short some days, you’re not alone. A strong support network, both in the office and on the home front, helps. Be sure to make time to establish meaningful connections and to take care of you. Improving your self-care practices will help you sleep better, feel better, and experience greater self-confidence throughout the day.

Photo: Getty

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