Getting a compliment from a stranger has been named among the biggest confidence boosters for women, a study has found.
A poll of 2,000 women aged 50 and above has revealed what causes self-esteem to soar, with being comfortable in your own skin, feeling good about your weight and wearing a flattering outfit also featuring on the list.
Other confidence boosters include waking up feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep, a stranger smiling at you and being good at your job.
But poor memory recall, not feeling as fit as you once were and going through the menopause are among the things most likely to leave a woman feeling low.
Someone mistakenly thinking you are older than you are, going through the menopause and cellulite also among the things likely to knock a woman’s confidence.
Worryingly, the study by vitamins, minerals and health supplements firm Healthspan found low levels of confidence is leaving a third of those polled feeling depressed, while another 34 per cent have experienced increased anxiety.
Weight gain (27 per cent), a feeling of isolation (23 per cent) and even a loss of libido (18 per cent) also among the effects of low confidence.
Low self-esteem has even prevented a quarter from socialising with their friends, held back 22 per cent back in their career, stopped 14 per cent from exercising and had a negative effect on family life among nine per cent.
It also emerged the menopause has a huge effect on a woman’s confidence levels with 29 per cent saying the impact of the menopause is under-rated.
A third even went as far as to say they no longer feel like the person they once were before the menopause.
Dr Meg Arroll, psychologist specialising in health working with Healthspan, said: “We often focus on the physical changes associated with ageing and the menopause, but the emotional and psychological impact of life transitions are just as important.
“This survey has highlighted the degree to which women’s confidence and mental health can be affected by getting older – and our ageist society has played a role here.
“The more we discuss this openly, the more we can protect women’s mental health.
“Therefore, it’s important to both tackle the underlying reasons for confidence drains, whilst focusing on the areas that make women in midlife unstoppable.”
The study also found that while 14 per cent of women polled claim their confidence levels are very good, more than one in ten rated them as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
But the research, carried out through OnePoll, also found 46 per cent of women’s confidence has INCREASED as they have got older and feel more comfortable in their skin.
One in four felt at their least confident between the ages of 18 and 25, while 18 per cent say their 50s is the most self-assured they have ever felt.
Dr Meg Arroll on behalf of Healthspan added: “In general, with greater experience comes a more balanced perspective.
“Women in midlife tend to care less what other’s think in general and more about what makes them feel good about themselves.
“The obsessiveness of youth fades (thank goodness), replaced by a more outwardly perspective and focus on our purpose, rather than simply appearance.
It also emerged almost one in five felt their confidence was knocked thanks to menopause, with 17 per cent saying they really struggled ‘emotionally’.
Almost one in 10 said it had an effect on their work and career with three in 10 declaring the effect of the menopause is ‘underrated’.
Four in 10 also blamed hot flushes at work for knocking their confidence.
TOP 20 – THINGS WHICH POSITIVELY EFFECT IN CONFIDENCE IN WOMEN OVER 50:
- Feeling comfortable in your own skin
- Feeling positive about your weight
- Wearing an outfit that is flattering in all the right places
- Being told ‘I love you’
- Receiving a compliment from someone you know
- Waking up feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep
- Spending time in nature
- Spending time with your close friends
- Receiving a compliment from a stranger
- Receiving a compliment about your youthful looks
- Receiving a smile from a stranger
- Having perfectly styled hair
- Working on your hobbies, e.g. art, music, creative writing, gardening, etc.
- The feeling of being self-sufficient
- Returning from holiday and feeling great
- The feeling of having good knowledge of a subject
- Being good at my job
- Being complimented on a new outfit
- Feeling like a valued member of your community
- Wearing a full face of make up
TOP 20 – THINGS WHICH NEGATIVELY EFFECT IN CONFIDENCE IN WOMEN OVER 50:
- Feeling less fit than you once were
- Having a bad night’s sleep
- Feeling tired
- Forgetting things that you once easily remembered
- Inability to lose weight no matter how hard you try
- Having to buy an item of clothing a size bigger than usual
- Experiencing a bad hair day
- Someone thinking you are older than you really are
- Feeling like you have inferior knowledge to the person you are speaking to
- Hitting the menopause
- Waking up with bad skin
- Experiencing brain fog at work
- Not being invited to a social gathering with friends
- Having sweat patches that show through your clothes
- Having a hot flush at work
- Finding a grey hair
- Realising that you are the oldest in your team at work
- Finding cellulite
- Seeing your partner look at younger women
- Someone wrongly believing you are pregnant