Young woman in swimwear

It’s not easy to gain confidence about the way you look, but you wouldn’t know it from taking in the scenery at your local beach. Shirtless guys playing tackle football, girls in bikinis so small they look like they were made for Bratz dolls and old men in tiny Speedos that you wish you could un-see – they’re all stunning examples of how to be confident in your own skin. So if you’re cowering under your beach umbrella, blanketed in an extra-large T-shirt, it’s easy to feel left out. Ask a friend in a teeny-tiny bikini what you should do to join the action and she’ll likely smile and respond, “Just be confident!” as if there’s a switch inside your brain that you’ve somehow neglected to flip to “on” for all these years.

10 Ways to be Confident at the Beach (or Anywhere Else!)

The truth is, that extra-large T-shirt isn’t just a layer of cotton – it’s a coat of armor, and taking it off isn’t exactly easy. But it’s not impossible either. We asked doctors, stylists and even hypnotherapists for some confidence-boosting tips that actually work. Here are the awesome ideas they gave us:

1. Break your funhouse mirror. Dr. Jennifer Howard is a psychotherapist, life coach and award-winning author of “Your Ultimate Life Plan.” She believes one of the keys to gaining confidence lies in challenging the “stories” we may have been telling ourselves for years.

“When you observe a negative or challenging thought pattern, breathe and remember you are not your thoughts,” she says. “Counter those limiting thoughts and painful feelings with supportive and encouraging self-talk. Take a deep belly breath, feel your feet planted firmly on the ground, and say to yourself something like, ‘I’m more than who I see in the mirror and who I am in this moment is enough, imperfect body and all.” This is an exercise you’ll have to practice over and over, but it will become easier to believe each time.

2. Indulge in some pampering. Picking out a suit that gives you the illusion of bigger boobs or a tighter tummy can reward you with a big confidence boost – but paying attention to some of the smaller details of your look can go a long way too. Stop by a spa before you head to the beach and treat yourself to a wax, spray tan or pedicure. “If you look down and see pretty nails and pretty feet, it makes you feel confident,” says Dannielle Romano, editor for DailyCandy.com, “and in the end, it’s all about how you think you look that really affects how you look the most.”

3. Give your body image an instant lift. The road to true self-confidence is a two-way street, and looking your best can help you feel your best too. So it doesn’t hurt to pack some secret weapons in your beach bag that will make you feel like you’re showing all those ripped lifeguards the sexiest version of yourself. Here’s one you may not have tried before – Skinnies Instant Lifts. Penilopee LaRosa, the owner and inventor of Skinnies Instant Lifts, says they’re “the greatest trick for women in swimsuits.”

The clear adhesives are strategically hidden under swimsuits or clothes. When worn, they pull skin upward and can give you a natural breast lift, instantly smooth cellulite or lift sagging knee skin for shorts or swimsuits. For summer, LaRosa developed Skinnies Swimmers, which are waterproof and can be worn under swimsuits. Says LaRosa, “What a huge confidence builder when you are not paranoid and trying to cover your legs at the beach!”

4. Predict your future. Dustin Saiidi is a mindset and performance coach and a certified hypnotherapist. He says one of the best ways to ensure you enjoy your time at the beach is to image your best-case scenario the night before. “Spend 15 minutes at night visualizing how you want your day at the beach to go. How do you want to feel? What will your experience be like? The better you define your outcome, the more likely it will manifest itself!”

If you think about it, this idea makes a lot of sense. After all, when most of us are nervous about an upcoming event, we do the exact opposite – we psych ourselves out by imagining every possible thing that could go wrong, and it doesn’t exactly help us gain confidence, does it? So before you hit the beach, take Dustin’s advice – and if you need some extra support, feel free to leave your “best-case beach scenario” as a comment on this post!

5. Lighten up at lunchtime. Feeling stuffed, bloated and uncomfortable isn’t exactly a recipe for confidence, so when you pack your cooler before heading down to the beach, choose lighter options. Nutritionist and wellness coach Rania Batayneh gave us these three easy-to-follow tips. “The night before you hit the shore, skip the carbs at dinner (especially if you know you will be enjoying a cocktail or drink at the beach). Pack healthy pool-bag options to fill you up, not out, and remember to stay hydrated. Sip on refreshing lemon or orange-and-mint-infused water while laying out.”

6. Let go of perfection. To gain confidence, Dr. John Grohol, the founder and CEO of Psych Central, believes you have to first convince yourself to stop obsessing about being perfect. “Perfection is simply unattainable for any of us,” he says. “Let it go. You’re never going to be perfect. You’re never going to have the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect children or the perfect home. We revel in the idea of perfection, because we see so much of it in the media. But that is simply an artificial creation of society. It doesn’t exist.”

7. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Pam McMurtry, author, blogger and self-described “unrepentant beach bunny,” says one of the best ways to gain confidence is to learn to laugh at yourself.

“I love the beach and grew up there near San Diego,” says Pam. “My BFF and I used to take our eight kids to the beach in the summer. Feeling flabby, she used to say, ‘Look around – there’s always someone bigger than you are!’ (This is true BFF wisdom). In our black-and-white swimsuits, bodysurfing on boogie boards, we used to call ourselves Pamu and Maru (referencing Shamu the killer whale star at Sea World). We had a lot of fun!”

We can understand why – when you approach your insecurities with humor instead of fear, the beach becomes what it’s meant to be: a playground, not the stage of a beauty pageant.

8. Stop treating your stomach like a trash can. Starting a crash diet a week before vacation is a surefire way to stress yourself out and feed into negative self-talk. But if you strive to eat healthy, balanced, delicious foods before your beach debut, you’ll feel more positive and more energetic – and you might even cut down on bloating in the process. “Our body is our temple,” says World Gym fitness ambassador Sandy Lieu. “Respecting it by eating clean, whole foods is the best way to build confidence and feel great.”

Got a wine and cheese weakness? Sandy suggests snacking on brown rice crackers topped with cottage cheese instead. Swap out the Monday night meatloaf for lighter turkey meatloaf muffins, or curb your sweet tooth with Greek yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon and Stevia. Focusing on healthy alternatives to your favorite foods (instead of drastically cutting calories) will keep you from feeling deprived. It’ll help you gain confidence instead.

9. Turn the boardwalk into a runway. If you’re not thrilled about showing off your body this summer, buy a swimsuit you’re excited to debut. Just like a new outfit, a stylish swimsuit can help you gain confidence. Yulia Drummond, creator and designer of Voda Swim, says, “It just makes me feel great when I get to wear a brand-new bathing suit. It’s exciting to put it on and show it off at the beach!” She’s totally right. You can’t dread the act of uncovering when you’re excited about what you’re about to reveal!

10. Tan outside the lines. When you’re constantly readjusting your itty-bitty bottoms or retying the flimsy knot on your bikini top, it’s easy to feel self-conscious. Reilly Starr, co-founder and CEO of Naked Sports Gear, has the solution: a patent-pending concept that, she says, “gives athletes and outdoor enthusiasts innovative sports apparel that is moisture-wicking and tan-through.”

According to Reilly, “All Naked Sports Gear products are made of lightweight mesh fabrics to minimize tan lines and a quick-dry material to keep the skin cool and dry.” When you can jog on the beach without worrying about tacky tan lines or a swimsuit that won’t stay put, you’ll definitely be able to hold your head higher.

Of course, like all habits, changing the way you think and act at the beach won’t happen overnight. The key is staying committed, and that’s even easier when you have strong incentives for improving your body image and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Need an extra boost to give you the courage you need? Think of all the other women at the beach who are hiding under T-shirts. Think of your daughter or little sister who’s been spending more time crouched under her beach towel lately than she’s spent chasing waves. And think of what kind of role model you’d be if these women and girls could see you strutting down the beach in style, smiling and having a great time. Work hard to gain confidence and you might just teach other women how to be confident too. So free yourself from the shackles of your beach-tee and get out there and change the world.

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Published by Rosie Raphaelle

Her mission is to show women how to have fun, safe and meaningful sex. Her sex tips articles has been published in many women's magazines.

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