How Slowing Down Can Increase Your Confidence and Better Your Mental Health

Jackie B. Watson
Founder & CEO of USA National Miss Scholarship Organization, LLC

We are all feeling it – the stress and pressure to keep up in today’s fast paced world. Whether you’re young or old, we are all constantly bombarded with messages that we have to do more, be more, strive for more and accomplish more. Our best efforts seem to never be enough by today’s standards. Our accomplishments aren’t celebrated for too long before we are pushed to strive for the next one. We must never stop doing, improving and achieving the next big thing. This pressure doesn’t just come from society, most of the times, it also comes from within. We have it engrained in our mind that we aren’t enough and need to push harder and do more… and we don’t even realize what we are doing to ourselves. This mindset that is so prevalent in today’s society, can greatly affect your quality of life. This constant pressure can manifest itself in lowered self-confidence, self-doubt and a load of anxiety – not to mention mental and physical fatigue which can lead to all types of health issues. But the good news is, you don’t have to live this way. There are healthy ways to reject the fast-paced life while being accomplished and successful. Slowing down the speed of life and focusing on the important things that bring you joy and peace can greatly increase your confidence, improve your mental health, and allow you to live a life that you love. Here are three questions to ask yourself in order to begin a journey of slowing down, building confidence, improving your mental health and designing a life that is lived to the fullest.

What are my values?
The primary reason why we get caught up in this unhealthy cycle of “more” is because we haven’t taken inventory of our lives. We don’t stop long enough to ask ourselves this basic but super important question: “What are my core values?”

For me, my core values include making memories with my family, spending time in nature each day, beautifying my environment, and growing my relationship with Jesus, among a few other things.

What are your core values? Take a moment to reflect and write them down. Now reflect on whether these things are what you’re spending the most time and energy on each day. You may be surprised that it isn’t.

Once we define what our core values are, it allows us to live our life in alignment with what we value most, making our lives more fulfilling, happy and healthy. Upon reflection, you may find that you’ve been spending a lot of time doing things that aren’t in alignment with what you value most. You may realize that there is a disconnect between the things you value most and your everyday actions. By slowing down and taking inventory on your daily life and your values, you can begin designing and curating a life that you love. Start eliminating needless things you’re doing each day that are not in alignment with your values – until all that is left is what you love. Most of us will find that “doing more and achieving more” is not on our values list, and this will allow us be intentional about our days so we can slow down and live a life that is fulfilling and happy. Eliminate things that are actively working against your values in order to bring your life to a slower pace with only the things that bring more joy into your life, because more joy and happiness equals better mental health.

What brings me joy?
What brings you joy? In the grand scheme of life, our days are numbered. And at the end of our days, we won’t look back on all the things we did because we “had” to or because we thought we were “supposed” to do. We won’t look back on all the ways we hustled. We will look back on all the moments that brought us joy. This begs the question: “What does a life well-lived look like to you?” In other words, what brings you joy? Knowing the answer to this question will help you design your life in a way that allows you to slow your pace of life to purposely make room for these joy moments. When you do that, you increase your serotonin levels and create smile worthy moments each day, which leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Finding the little joys in every day life is a great way to improve your mental health by giving yourself a boost of happiness throughout your day. For me, it’s laying in my hammock for a few minutes each day and feeling the sun on my face while listening to the sound of the water fountain in my pool. This moment of pure bliss is the break I need during my busy days and reminds me to make time for things that I love. It reminds me that what I love is important, what I value is worth the interruption. I matter. My happiness matters. It’s easy for me to get caught up in all my “to-do’s.” After all, the life of a national pageant director is extremely busy and the work is never done, and we surely all do have to work to live. But we shouldn’t be living to work. Prioritizing slowing down for a few moments each day to make room for this simple joy brings me happiness, and helps me ensure that I’m prioritizing my mental and physical health.

Once you start designing your life to include things you enjoy, you’ll gain confidence as you begin to understand you can curate your life, your way. You’ll start to listen to your heart more, and listen to society less. “Stop and smell the roses” really is great advice after all.

What is enough for me?
Often, we rush through life pushing ourselves with so many expectations of who we need to be, what we need to do and where we need to go. We fill out calendars, but deplete our energy. We fill our days, but aren’t filling our lives with what means the most to us. It’s important to know what “enough” is for you. This will be different for every single person. What is enough for you? For me, “enough” is living my life in alignment with my values, giving my best effort at work, and leaving a legacy of love for my family. I don’t need anything else, no matter what society tells me. I don’t have to win awards, make tons of money, vacation in the best destinations, achieve awards and recognition, or keep up with the Jone’s. I don’t have to have three side hustles, be a “girl boss” or have the most followers on Instagram.

Also, we need I can know we, ourselves, are enough – regardless of what our version of “enough” is for how we live our lives. It’s important to understand that YOU ARE ENOUGH, just as you are. You’re enough just because you are breathing right now. God gave you air in your lungs today because he says you’re worthy and valuable to him. That is enough. You don’t need to do anything more than just breathe to be enough for God. Once you know what enough is for you, and you understand that you’re enough just as your are, your confidence will grow because you won’t have to listen to what society is telling you anymore. You won’t feel pressured to have the best or be the best. You can live confidently knowing you are enough. These three questions can start you on the journey to improving your confidence and mental health, and living a fulfilled life filled with joy and happiness. Take the time to slow down, and design a life that allows you to not just survive, but thrive. Cheers to your new journey!

Thank you so much to Ms. Jackie for writing this blog post! Jackie B. Watson is the founder and CEO of USA National Miss Scholarship Organization, LLC, one of America’s most prestigious and highly respected national pageant programs. As an industry leader, she has taken her inspirations and dreams and molded them into a prominent and successful business that inspires and empowers women and young ladies across the nation. Her visionary leadership has resulted in high honors, including being named best national director in America four times by pageant award organizations. This award-winning pageant director has changed the culture of pageantry with her mantra of “Positive Pageantry”, coupled with an insatiable desire to inspire and empower young women through her nationwide motivational speeches and six published books geared specifically to pageant titleholders. A former professional journalist, Jackie enjoys using the power of words to enact change, and inspire others.

I know I personally really needed to hear this! Those that know me know I am a nonstop type of person, but sometimes that becomes too much. I hope this serves as a reminder to everyone to take some time and reflect. I couldn’t have said it better, and I am truly in awe of Ms. Jackie and USA National Miss as a whole.

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