Psychologists describe self-esteem as a person’s overall sense of worth or value. It is a measure of how much you appreciate and like yourself, including how you look and what you believe about yourself (“I am loved” vs. “I am worthless”).
Your self-esteem can affect whether you:
- Like and value yourself as a person
- Are able to make decisions and assert yourself
- Recognize your strengths and positive traits about yourself
- Feel and able to try new and difficult things
- Show kindness towards yourself
- Move on from past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
- Take the time you need for yourself
- Believe that you matter and are good enough
- Believe that you deserve happiness
Self-esteem and Mental Health
Having low self-esteem isn’t a mental health problem in itself, but the two are closely linked. If many things affect your self-esteem for a prolonged period of time (such as being bullied or abused, losing your job, relationship problems, poor body image, etc.) then it might lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
If you are starting to look down on yourself because of circumstances around you, here are some ways you can overcome that feeling and improve your self-esteem:
1. Practice self-compassion
Whenever you feel like you are not able to meet the expectations you have for yourself, please don’t beat yourself up. Learn to be gentle with yourself by learning self-forgiveness, and recognize that you are only human.
Read more about our blog post on practicing self-compassion here
2. Take care of your physical health.
Poor sleep and eating habits, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and using recreational drugs — all of these can you make you look and feel bad.
3. Spend time outdoors.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help with mental problems like anxiety and depression; if combined with physical activities like hiking or walking, it can make you feel good about what your body can do and turn the focus away from what your body should look like. Furthermore, because most outdoor activities involve groups of people, you also improve social interactions and gain a support group that you can turn to whenever you need a self-esteem boost.
However, with the extended lockdowns, going out may not be the best option right now. Hence, you can bring the outdoors to the indoors by cultivating a green space in your home.
4. Appreciate the good.
Always celebrate your successes and wins, no matter how small they are. Accept compliments graciously instead of acting self-deprecating. If anyone says something malicious or unkind, don’t focus on it even if it’s difficult to do most of the time.
5. Learn to say “NO.”
Set your limits and be firm. Frequently doing things that you don’t want to do to please other people can drain your energy and even crush your spirit.
6. Find a hobby that you enjoy.
Whether it’s baking or mountain biking, do it often to the point that you become quite good at it. When you learn something new or find ways to improve yourself, you will feel better.
7. Try volunteering.
Spend time helping out your favorite cause. Doing good for others and the community gives you a natural sense of accomplishment and boosts your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
8. Talk to someone.
If you are going through a tough time, turn to friends and family for comfort, support, or advice. If you need the assistance of a mental health professional, there are a lot of mental health organizations online that you can consult.
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Written by Jacq of Mindnation