Imagine: You had a long day at work. Customer after angry customer assaulted you, and as a result, you made a careless mistake on an important project. Now your boss has reprimanded you and it feels like every coworker is talking behind your back. When you finally arrive home, the sink is piled high with dishes; children are screaming; your husband asks you what is for dinner.

What would you do?

The easy answer would be: scream. Scream as if your life depended on it. How dare they be so unconcerned when you have had such a hard day? Believe me, I’ve been there. But there is another way to deal with it.

Find your happy place. I know, it sounds cliché. But figuring out what makes you happy, even in your gloomiest hours, can do wonders for your brain. Being unhappy or stressed is the first thing that leads to a break in confidence. How can you be confident if you’re depressed?

In fact, chronic stress is extremely detrimental to your both your body and brain’s functioning. A recent study found that 90% of doctor’s visits are related to stress. When you become stressed all the time, your brain releases cortisol, which stays in your body all day long—and does a number on it. Too much cortisol can lead to health problems such as weight gain, hormone imbalances, digestive problems, diabetes, and even heart disease. Not to mention it can easily cause anxiety, depression, and memory problems.

It is important to take some time out of your day to unwind and relax. Discover what puts you at ease, and take advantage of it. Like to read? Visit the library for a good book. Haven’t caught up on that new show lately? Turn on Netflix for an hour. If you’ve had a difficult day, establish communication with your family and let them know you need to take the night off. For me, it’s music. Playing piano and singing show tunes are my favorite ways to escape. It releases the tension in my chest and allows the cortisol to temporarily leave my system. Music—it is something special. Not only does it tap into the reward pathways in our brains, but it also reduces depression, helps form new memories, and promotes relaxation.

So, the next time you have a bad day, stop and think about what makes you happy. Smile. It could help your brain, your body, and your confidence in the long run.

Camille Buffington
Research Analyst and Neuroscience Writer

American Confidence Institute