Boosting Self-Esteem: 5 Easy Strategies
First, what is self-esteem?
Depending on who you ask, self-esteem can be defined in a variety of ways. The dictionary definition states, self-esteem is "confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect." Psychcentral.com describes the difference between high self-esteem and low self-esteem, stating "individual's with high self-esteem believe that they are ADEQUATE, STRONG and WORTHY OF A GOOD LIFE, while individual's who struggle with low self-esteem feel worthless or inadequate." Sometimes people will use other words to describe self-esteem such as: self-confidence, self-worth, self-love, or self-respect. In reality, self-esteem (plus the words listed above) arrive at one central theme: it is HOW WE FEEL ABOUT OURSELVES.
Let's talk about the roots
Self-esteem begins to develop in our childhoods. It molds and evolves throughout our adolescents and into adulthood. Self-esteem is often rooted in our early experiences with parents, friends, teachers, or family. It can also be modeled by caregivers (e.g. Dad speaks positively about himself and his abilities). This modeling usually takes place during those critical years of development. if we go a little deeper into our childhood roots, it can also be a reflection of the attachment style or relationship we have with our caregivers. For example, if you grew up with a extremely critical mother, you most likely will view parts of yourself as "not good enough." This may be reinforced if you engage in, say, a romantic relationship that also tells you that you are not good enough, pretty enough, or worthy. If our early experiences are negative then it can cause long-lasting negative effects on how we view ourselves and even how we view others. Not to mention, it can impact the way we relate to others, our view of trust and safety, and our outlook on the world. As a result, focusing on building your self-esteem is critical to your overall well-being and happiness.
5 self-esteem boosting strategies
Here are a few ways to build self-esteem. There are a TON of different strategies and it is more about what WORKS FOR YOU! Maybe experiment with a few listed and see where it takes you. I would also recommend tracking how you feel, more importantly how you feel about yourself before and after engaging in one of the activities below. For example, rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy your feel about yourself. Maybe notice if there is any change week-over-week. Ok, let's get to it...
Start a self-affirmation journal - You are probably wondering what the heck is a self-affirmation journal?! A self-affirmation journal is a place where you can reflect and write about the things you value, such as your family, friends or your career. There is a body of research highlighting that doing this can bolster individual's feelings of self-worth (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). The best part is you get to pick out a really cute and fun journal (e.g. @shopbando #shopbando)
Daily gratitude practice - Now, we all have heard about gratitude. But really, what is gratitude? Well, it is the practice of acknowledging the things, people, and experiences we feel genuinely grateful for. These "things" don't have to be BIG...it can be as simple as "hot showers in the morning," or the "being in the sunshine." Research shows practicing gratitude can improve your relationships, improve your physical and mental health, improve sleep, increase self-esteem, and increases mental strength to name a few (Forbes.com, 2014).
Setting boundaries - Practicing setting boundaries for yourself is key in recognizing and valuing your individual needs. One way to set boundaries is to start saying NO. Maybe you commit to too many social plans and find yourself totally exhausted by the end of the week. It is PERFECTLY OK to say NO sometimes. Recognizing when you need time to yourself builds your ability to feel confident in what you are capable of and who you are as a person, thus building overall self-esteem.
Eat clean - We are all well aware that eating healthy is something we should be doing on a daily basis. Tons of research highlights the positive affects on the body and mind when we eat clean whole-foods. It provides our bodies with the nutrients it needs in order to keep the body functioning properly. Eating clean can be hard at times, and if you just need that cookie to boost your mood, well go ahead and eat it. Maybe tell yourself that you will make sure to eat a handful of greens during your next meal! The way we feel in our body directly affects the way we feel about ourselves. Eating healthy clean foods = positive feelings about ourself!
Get MOVING - The mind-body connection is something I sincerely believe in. Research has shown exercise provides numerous benefits to both the body and mind. We all know that exercise can "make us feel good" both in how we feel physically, but more importantly how we feel mentally. Exercise can also make us feel accomplished or boost our "self-efficacy." Feeling accomplished, even if it is small, can improve how we view ourselves and our abilities.
Disclaimer: Please note, the information offered on this website/blog is not, nor is it intended to be, therapy or psychological advice, nor does it constitute a client/therapist relationship. Please consult a mental health provider for individual support regarding your own personal health or well-being or call 1-800-950-NAMI for resources and support.