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Mental Health Experts Say This Two-Second Habit Is The New Power Pose

Gimme five.

By Jessica Estrada
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Photo of attractive brunette woman wearing shirt taking selfie photo and looking at mirror in apartm...

While self-confidence is not necessarily an inherent characteristic in many people, it is something that you can build up with specific rituals and practices, such as reciting positive affirmations and giving yourself pep talks. Even swiping your favorite lipstick can undoubtedly give you the self-motivation needed to conquer the day — another easy confidence-boosting habit worth adding to your toolkit: high-fiving yourself.

Mel Robbins, the author of the best-selling book The 5 Second Rule, recently debuted a new book aptly called The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life With One Small Habit, which focuses on exactly that, the power of high-fiving your reflection in the mirror daily. Robbins says the potential side effects of implementing this habit into your routine include eliminating negative thought patterns and — you guessed it — improved self-confidence. Though it may sound almost too simple and perhaps a bit silly, there is science to back it up. Studies have found that high fives increase motivation and strength while decreasing levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone), so don’t knock it until you try it.

Ahead, Robbins gives TZR the scoop on the benefits of high-fiving yourself, how it works, and how to put it into practice to experience the confidence-boosting result for yourself.

How To Practice High-Fiving Yourself

While we'll assume you know the basics of high-fiving, there are some tips and tricks on maximizing the habit's effectiveness. First, when should you do it? Robbins recommends high-fiving yourself daily right after you brush your teeth in the morning. "When you stack a new habit with an old one, it's easier for your brain to make it a pattern," she says. In this case, the habit of brushing your teeth will trigger you to remember to give yourself a high five.

To do so, Robbins instructs standing in front of a mirror and acknowledging that the person staring back at you needs your support and encouragement. Then, raise your hand, while holding your gaze in the mirror and high-five your reflection. Simple! Yes, it may feel a bit weird, Robbins says, but you'll quickly get used to it after a few times.

Furthermore, the high five habit is also a tool you can implement throughout your day and use whenever you’re feeling stressed, even when there’s no mirror in sight. Robbins refers to this version as "high-fiving your heart." To practice it, press your hands in the center of your chest. Robbins explains that this is where the vagus nerve runs through and by pressing on the area you can essentially turn off the sympathetic nervous system (the flight or fight response associated with stress) and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system (the at-rest nervous system) making you feel more grounded and in control. With your hands over your heart, Robbins recommends repeating this mantra: "I'm okay. I'm safe. I'm loved."

The Benefits Of High-Fiving Yourself

According to Robbins, there are three top benefits to high-fiving yourself every day as part of your morning ritual. One, you'll get an instant drip of dopamine, the chemical that helps elevate mood. You'll also get a jolt of energy when you do it because the nervous system is hardwired to associate high-fives with celebratory energy, Robbins says.

And, most importantly, she says, you'll feel a sense of positivity because we have a neural association that links high-fives with positive beliefs and positive encouragement. "All of the programming that explains the benefits are already stored in your brain and your nervous system and in your physiology because of the lifetime that you've spent either receiving or giving high fives to other people," Robbins says. "The physical action of high-fiving triggers all of that positive programming that's stored in your subconscious to marry with your own reflection. It's neurologically impossible to stand in front of a mirror and high-five yourself and think something negative."

After incorporating this habit, Robbins adds, typically within a few days, you'll feel your mood change and energy shift and start developing an improved relationship with yourself. "It breaks the habit of self-rejection [and] self-criticism," she says. "It reprograms your brain with all the positive programming related to the high five — encouragement, celebration, support, love."

Essentially, by high-fiving yourself daily, whether it’s in the morning or whenever you need a boost, Robbins says, the act communicates to yourself that you love and accept yourself, and that you are cheering yourself on regardless of where you are in life, how you look, or what you've accomplished. "It is reframing your belief system about who you are," she says. "Your brain also is starting to go, whoa, wait a minute. You're not criticizing the person in the mirror. We're celebrating them now. So you're going to feel more encouraged. You're going to feel connected to yourself. You're going to feel like you're building trust and partnership with yourself. And frankly, you're going to feel like you're coming home, back to yourself."