Self-esteem, simply put, is how you feel about yourself. And while our self-esteem begins to develop in early childhood, it is not set in stone. In fact, self-esteem is ever-changing throughout your life. There may be times when your self-esteem is at an all time high, and others when it has taken an undesirable dip, perhaps due to a stressful life event or mental health struggle, like clinical depression. Everyone has the power to develop their self-esteem independent of help from others, and the benefits are significant.
At HPA/LiveWell, we believe having a healthy self-esteem is not simply about liking yourself more. It is also a way of improving your mental health. In fact, for those with existing mental health struggles, such as severe depression and anxiety, boosting self-esteem can increase feelings of worth and help you manage feelings of sadness, emptiness, etc. Also, a healthy self-esteem can help ward off mental health concerns altogether, as low self-esteem is one of the main major depression causes.
For more information about clinical depression and other types of mood disorders, and how HPA/Livewell approaches major depression treatment, please click here.
So, if you suffer from clinical depression, or simply feel your self-esteem could use a boost, there are ways you can help yourself. Some methods may fit better for you than others. Yet, they are all worth a try.
Stop the negative self-talk
How do you describe yourself – intelligent, stupid, beautiful, ugly, kind? The labels we assign ourselves are endless and often, the negatives outweigh the positives. Yet, these labels are not just meaningless words that flow in and out of our heads. They become ingrained, and begin to shape our perceptions, self-esteem, and even contribute to mental health concerns like clinical depression.
Pay attention to your self-talk and how critical you are. Do you nit-pick each and every flaw you have? With increased awareness, you can begin to catch yourself when negative thoughts come up, and begin to challenge and change them.
Accept your “flaws”
As human beings, we all have “flaws”; things we wish we could change or improve upon within ourselves. Yet, to stop these “flaws” from overpowering our self-esteem, it is important to separate the “flaws” that can be worked on, from those which are unchangeable.
For those unchangeable “flaws”, there really are only two choices: you mull over it, or you can choose acceptance. With acceptance, you can begin to move further away from personal struggle, whether it be clinical depression, or simply low-self-esteem. You might be wondering how you can just accept something you do not like, and it is all about a state of mind. Accepting your “flaws” does not have to mean you like them. It simply means you choose to no longer let something that cannot be changed have control over you. Acceptance allows you to spend less time and energy focusing on what you do not like, which gives you space to discover your strengths.
Celebrate your strengths
Celebrating your strengths is simple activity to incorporate into daily life. And it only has to take up 5 minutes of your time. Take a moment to yourself once per day to reflect on what your personal strengths are. These can be things you like about yourself physically, but think also in terms of your personality, your abilities, your relationships, etc.
“I make my friends laugh.”
“I show love for my significant other.”
“I am a good caretaker to my animals.”
Once you acknowledge some of your strengths, write them down, and do something to celebrate them! Pick one and identify how it contributes to making your life better. Or, distinguish how your strengths have added to your accomplishments (no matter how small). If you have trouble with this at first, talk with your friends and family about each other’s strengths and successes. Hearing feedback from loved ones is helpful.
Taking better care of yourself is one of the quickest ways to provide an instant self-esteem boost, but also one of the easiest things to ignore when you are not feeling up to the task. Practicing self-care takes effort and we can all find reasons not to do it. Maybe daily life, stress, or clinical depression has gotten in the way. And while it may take a bit of planning, practicing self-care is a must for positive self-esteem.
Self-care means focusing on yourself and your needs, through things like getting sufficient sleep, nourishing your body appropriately, engaging in daily hygiene, and participating in activities that promote a sense of peace and well-being. Examine your current self-care practices, and identify where you may be lacking. By boosting your self-care routine you will feel better about yourself, and things like clinical depression will be easier to manage.
Achieving a healthy self-esteem is a process. Yet, with using some of the approaches mentioned above, you may find that life looks a bit brighter. Boosting your self-esteem may not cure your clinical depression, anxiety, or other struggle, but it can create a sense of resilience during difficult and stressful times. Obviously the benefits are abundant, but you must be willing to put in the effort.