Many of us live with low self-esteem. Here are five ways to improve it...

12 October

Self-esteem is the belief system that you have about yourself, whether they are positive or negative beliefs.

If you have a healthy self-esteem, you generally feel more positively about yourself and have a better outlook on life, dealing with its ups and downs with much more ease.

Low self-esteem is something many people experience. It can be overwhelming at times, leading to anxiety and depression. It can affect your ability to live your usual life, and day to day living. Many people can have difficulty in leaving their home, washing and dressing, and eating, this can lead to further health complications.

Here are five easy, and holistic ways ways to improve your levels of self-esteem.

Doing something you enjoy

Finding an activity that you enjoy and are good at can make a difference to your self-esteem, giving you a confidence boost and providing you with a sense of worth.

Your activity could be anything from volunteering with animals or people, taking up a hobby like swimming, learning a new language or crafting.

Taking up new activities provides you with the opportunity to meeting new people who are like minded, forming new friendships. It can also offer routine and motivation, while you acheive goals.

Looking after your physical health

Looking after your physical health can help you feel healthier and more confident with your appearance.

Going to the gym or exercising regularly will help to calm anxiety as it can dispel energy, and give you something positive to focus on. Going to the gym is a great confidence booster as you can regularly see improvements you are making with your physical health. Exercise also helps to release endorphins which can help you to feel better.

Eating healthily will help you feel you feel good too. There are natural foods that can boost your mood, such as bananas, brazil nuts, eggs and avocados.

Being mindful

Mindfulness is a fantastic tool to use when you are feeling low. Mindfulness keeps you in the moment, fully experiencing the here and now and appreciating your surroundings.

It can stop you focusing on things that may have happened, that could happen or any negative thoughts you may have.

Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing can help bring a sense of calm.

Try mindfullness now…

  • Take a few moments to focus on your breathing, sense the flow of air and feel your belly rise and fall. Do this repeatedly for a few moments.
  • Take a little time whilst you are breathing to notice your senses. What do you smell and hear right now? Take time to just be in the moment..
  • Let your thoughts flow. Practice allowing thoughts to flow freely through you, you don’t need to react to, or believe all of your thoughts.
  • If you are eating, notice the colours, textures and smell of your food. Notice the feeling and tastes as you chew.
  • When you start to feel like you are on autopilot; bring more awareness into that activity.

For more information on mindfulness, read our Mindfulness for Dementia blog.

Acknowledging and challenging negative behaviours

“I never thought I was a bully until I heard how I speak to myself”

Many of us speak negatively to ourselves (self talk), without realising it. To challenge negative behaviour, we need to consciously acknolowedge the nature of our self talk.

One way to begin changing your thoughts to become more conscious so that you can take more control over them is that as soon as a negative thought comes into your head, is to stop and note that it is there. This can take a bit of practise and you may not remember every time but getting into the habit and keeping at it is important.

Once you have caught the negative thought in its tracks, you are then able to give yourself a different message; turning it into a positive. For example, rather than saying “I can’t do it”, say “I can do it” and “I will do it”.

This isn’t an instant change, it takes a lot of practice to change your way of thinking, think of your brain as if it were a computer, it just needs to be reprogrammed by you. This work, when stuck to and practised regularly, will make a huge difference to your self-esteem.

Setting yourself small, achievable goals

When you have low self-esteem it can be difficult facing big tasks or setting yourself challenges. Planning some realistic goals that you can easily complete is a good way to start building your confidence.

Start with something small such as taking a short walk each day or going out to the shops. Once you have successfully completed your goals and you are feeling more confident, you can move onto setting yourself a bigger challenge. For example, taking part in a charity event like a run, or if you have struggled with social events, try going out with friends.

Make sure you set yourself realistic goals that you can achieve. This will boost your confidence and give you a sense of pride when you have completed it.