In a nutshell, self-esteem is your opinion of yourself and your abilities. It can be high, low or somewhere in-between. While everyone occasionally has doubts about themselves, low self-esteem can leave you feeling insecure and unmotivated. You might be able to identify a few things that are affecting your opinion of yourself (maybe you’re being bullied, or you might be feeling lonely), or it could be a mystery. Either way, there are heaps of things you can do to improve your self-esteem:
Check negative self-talk
How we value and perceive ourselves and our abilities is believed to be strongly tied to influences in childhood. Challenge negative beliefs you have about yourself, perhaps by writing down self-critical thoughts and the evidence against them, or by speaking to yourself the way you would of a friend.
Don’t compare yourself with others
It’s impossible to get an accurate view of other people. You’re comparing yourself with a fantasy, and that will lead to either excessive striving or disappointment. It is better you focus on what you yourself want to accomplish instead. People can put a lot of effort into what they think others want or expect from them, which they may have misjudged – a recipe for unhappiness.
Set manageable goals
Aiming for too-ambitious a goal can be setting yourself up for failure, knocking your self-confidence even if you have taken big steps towards it. A sense of accomplishment is key to maintaining your pride, says Blair, who suggests setting short- to mid-term goals.
Although keeping to your comfort zone can offer short-term relief, it can backfire in the long term. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things. Think of that boost you feel once you tick off a challenge.
Take care of yourself
Low self-esteem can sometimes lead to neglect of physical health. Finding ways to relax and addressing any issues you may have with your diet or substances can have a significant effect on your sense of self-worth.
Physical activity has been found to positively influence self-esteem and wellbeing. Physical activity, perceived physical fitness and body image play an important role in self-esteem, and it is recommended that regular physical activity should be promoted, in particular among adults reporting lower self-esteem.