Staring into the mirror, a popular quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding came to mind: “Look, I was going through a phase. I was Frump Girl.”
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s essentially about a girl who wakes up in her thirties to realize she’s not living the life she wants. She goes through a physical transformation, starts taking classes, and falls in love. It’s a movie about blossoming, essentially–but at the beginning of this year, I felt like I’d made a transformation into Frump Girl, not from it.
So many of us have our own stories of struggle from these past few years. The pandemic didn’t really do anyone any mental health or physical health favors. So many of us gained weight, got depressed, and struggled with who we were. Years later, we’re still living in the aftermath. So many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances I know have expressed struggling with their identity and confidence in the past year.
I also fell prey to the pandemic in some ways. Staying at home, while a blessing for my introverted nature, also led to some unwanted side effects. Weight gain, unhealthy habits, and social isolation played their part in my transformation into Frump Girl. Add to that a husband who lost his job right before the pandemic and my mastiff, my best friend, dying, and it was a recipe for a mid-thirties crisis.
In the past few months, though, I’ve managed to crawl out of my frumpy, slumpy mindset–all without spending thousands of dollars on quick fixes. I wanted to share what worked for me in case you, too, find yourself in a season of frump.
Check out my best tips that worked for me to get me out of my slump. To be clear, it wasn’t about looking physically better like so many posts tell you on Pinterest. This isn’t a post about how to be the sexiest version of yourself or how to meet society’s beauty standards. It’s more about confidence. It’s about rediscovering who you are and how you can show up in the world as your best self. Check out what helped me do just that below, and steal any ideas that inspire you.
I want to say that I am not sponsored by any of the brands or items I mention ( I wish!). I am sharing things I truly love.
It’s a common mantra in the motivational field that you become who and what you surround yourself with. While watching The Kardashians all day might be a fun escape, it might also not be what your struggling mental state needs. When I was at my lowest, I sought out podcasts and social media that made me feel like I could conquer the world–not like I was lacking.
My all-time favorite podcast is definitely the Rachel Hollis podcast. I know she doesn’t resonate with everyone (who does?), but I love that she is a high-achiever who speaks to women. She really talks a lot about chasing more in your life and going after your dreams, which is something I love.
I also recently found the Manifestation Babe, which is a bit more of a hippie-trippie ride. Still, I found myself interested in spirituality in different versions in the past few months, and manifestation was something that kept coming up in a lot of my social media feeds.
Whatever you choose to listen to, find something that you look forward to listening to and that fills you with motivation. Instead of watching the news before work, I started listening to podcasts to start my day off on the right foot. It’s made a world of difference in how I see things.
2. Add three healthy habits to your routine
Unless you’re living in a celebrity-sized mansion, it was almost impossible to get enough steps and physical activity in during the stay-at-home phase of the pandemic. For many of us, the habit of lethargy followed us even into 2022. Weight gain was a common issue with so many of us as a result of 2020.
I am not a fitness junkie by any means. In fact, my family likes to tease me that the only ‘B’ I ever got on a report card was in gym class. Still, there have been enough studies and my own experience to tell me that staying physically active and healthy improves your confidence. I don’t care how much you weigh or what size your clothes are, and you shouldn’t, either. Still, when you work on your health, you walk differently. You feel better in your clothes, and you feel better period.
For me, as someone who hates eating healthy and working out, I challenged myself back in February to add three healthy habits to my routine. I picked:
This felt doable, and it’s something I’ve stuck with even now. This summer, I worked more on cleaning up my nutrition to support these three, but to start, this was what I focused on. Nothing crazy or impossible.
I challenge you to pick three healthy habits as well. They don’t have to match mine. Maybe one of your healthy habits will be to journal every day in support of your mental health. Maybe you’ll trade your iced coffees for green tea instead, or maybe you’ll add a salad to your dinner each day. Pick three smaller health goals and run with them–and be sure to give it time before you discount the benefit. I didn’t see a change in my mood or health for several months. It takes time, truly.
If you are looking to add fitness to your routine, one app I loved was FitON. I still am using it because it has so many workouts…and the FREE version is absolutely perfect. You can stay on the free plan forever and still have plenty to do. None of the workouts are locked (the paid version just gives you the ability to choose different music and to download the workouts). I never get bored, and there are seriously workouts for every level. I’ve been loving the Pilates workouts lately.
3. Turn to Non-Fiction
As a bookworm, another way I know to get out of a slump is through reading. During my hardest periods, I picked up non-fiction specifically to boost my mood. You can find books out there on any topic you want to get inspired about.
My favorite is again by Rachel Hollis: Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. I love these books for women because they help you get out of your own way.
I also picked up several manifestation books about positive mindset that really helped. Another book I strongly recommend is The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. If you are a high achiever who feels like you are never accomplishing enough, this will change your whole mindset.
4. Make a Goal Wall
You’ve probably heard of visualization boards or manifestation boards. I’ve turned my bathroom mirror into my own version of this so that every morning, it’s the first thing I see. It’s also what I look at while I’m getting ready, and this helps me stop negative self-talk.
On my mirror, I have several things:
Sometimes, when I find a quote I love, I’ll put a post-it note on my mirror. Sometimes, I change my goal wall or add to it. The point is that every morning, the first thing I see are my goals, what I’m aiming for, and things that light me up. It’s hard to feel frumpy or like you’re in a slump when you’ve literally got your eye on where you’re headed.
Don’t limit yourself, either, when you make your lists or goals. The bigger the better. I firmly believe that goals and dreams are what keep us inspired, motivated, and get us off the sofa.
5. Change up your fashion
After the pandemic, I found myself in a fashion slump as well. Sweatpants and baggy shirts had become my uniform, and this frumpy style did nothing for my confidence. To get out of this rut, I did a few things.
I started looking on Pinterest for outfit ideas. I thought about what the best version of myself would wear, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. I stopped worrying about what others thought I should wear or what was practical. I thought about what outfits would make me happy.
Next, I started upgrading my wardrobe. One of my favorite places to do this is Stitch Fix. Yes, it’s very pricy. Truly. It’s not something I do all the time. Still, the stylists are great at sending pieces that fit your style but also push you out of your comfort zone. There were so many pieces they sent that I never would have tried on but that looked great and made me feel awesome. They are always my favorite pieces. They are an investment, but I can tell you that all of my Stitch Fix clothes are my favorites and have lasted years. I swear I am not sponsored by them, but if you want to give them a try, I do have a code here where you can get $25 when you order your first Stitch Fix Box. (Full disclosure: I do get $25 if you sign up as well, so thank you in advance if you do sign up and help me add to my wardrobe.)
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enhance your style, though. I also adore shopping at T.J. Maxx, Ross, and Burlington because I get so many amazing brands and styles for a fraction of the price. I actually bought a few top-notch brand shoes at Burlington for only $30 total. Poshmark is another place to look for high-quality brands at a fraction of the price. I just bought myself my dream Michael Kors purse for $50.
It’s not about how much you spend or the brands, though. Truly. It’s about dressing in a way that makes you feel confident. Sometimes, it’s just about mixing up your look to something new and exciting.
6. Take some quiet time to think
This sounds like a ridiculous tip that is too simple, but one of the best ways I got out of my funk was to take some quiet time to think. I used this time to think about the following:
Sometimes our “frumpy” feelings come from the disconnect between who we were and who we have become. Our sense of identity doesn’t always catch up with our changes, so taking time to really reflect on these questions can help us feel more steady and stable. I try to take a few minutes by myself to go for a walk with the dog and just think–no technology, no music, just me. Another place I love is my hammock. I find that if you can find a place outside to do your thinking, it really does soothe the soul somehow.
Find your own quiet space and take at least ten minutes a day to just be. I promise you’ll see a big difference.
7. Invest in beautiful undergarments
I used to think buying bras and underwear that were nice was a waste of money, but truly, if you’re looking for confidence, this is a great way to give yourself a boost. Ditch the grandma panties and find something that makes you feel sexier or more put-together. Get fun patterns or colors you wouldn’t normally. Invest in luxurious feeling fabrics. This is a simple way to boost your confidence without making a big show of it to the world.
8. Try something new
Monotony is a confidence killer. If you need to break out of a slump, try mixing up your routine in a small way. This can take on so many forms.
I have found that the best way to get out of a funk or depression was to try something new. A couple years ago, I finally checked off horseback riding from my bucket list–and it was my favorite day. My soul literally felt lighter after that experience because it was new, exciting, and challenging. In the fall, I also started candy making, which was something I always wanted to learn but never did. It’s something I do just for me (and for family and friends so I’m not eating all the candy), and it’s just soothing.
Find one small way to mix up your routine today. Do something that scares you a little. Take a class to learn something brand-new. Trying new things truly does feed the soul and gets you out of your boring routine.
9. Makeup and skincare
Having a skincare routine has helped me feel less frumpy, even on days I don’t wear makeup. There are so many options out there for every budget. I love Drunk Elephant for a splurge, but the Inkey List at Sephora has tons of affordable options that I think are great dupes. Get into the habit of taking care of your skin, though. Even just the ritual of layering on the serums and creams, something you do just for yourself, can help boost your confidence.
I also find that makeup is a fun way to get out of a rut. I love trying new looks. Pinterest and TikTok are great places to look for fun, achievable looks. Get a new palette with bright colors to try or, my personal favorite confidence boost: a bold, red lip. I think a red lip makes every woman strut a little differently.
Again, it’s all about trying something new and boosting your confidence. Little changes go a long way.
10. Talk to a friend
The best piece of advice I can give you if you are in a slump is this: talk to someone about it. I think so many times, social media makes us feel like we have to only show our smile to the world. We see all of our friends’ successes, gorgeous vacations, beautiful photos, and we think we can’t be vulnerable. We don’t want others to know we’re struggling. We lie and say we’re great when inside, we’re dying.
Be brave enough to talk to someone–a spouse, a friend, a family member. Tell them the truth about how you’re feeling. Or, if you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to, find a group online that you connect with around a common interest. Feeling a sense of belonging and being able to be honest with others is what life is all about.
I think you might be surprised, too, to find that if you are honest with others about your struggles, you perhaps will find you’re not alone in feeling like you are.
At the end of the day, whether it’s because of a world pandemic, a personal struggle, or just adult life being hard, we’ll all fall into a funk at some point. The key, though, is to avoid staying there. You do have control over finding ways to escape your funk, and they don’t have to break the bank. Still, if your funk is lasting a long time or if you’re just not getting out of it, don’t be afraid to seek professional help as well.
Life is hard, and we all struggle from time to time. Still, life is also beautiful, and you owe it to yourself to feel that beauty again. Pulling yourself out of a rut or a funk and getting back to feeling fabulous takes work. Still, I hope that you find the strength to do just that because, truly, you already are fabulous. You just need to believe it again.
For more inspiration, please join me over on Instagram or check out my motivational poetry on Amazon under L.A. Henry.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books