What goals have you set for your self this year?
Facing life’s challenges is so much easier when ones self esteem is intact.
That “feel good factor” of self worth, when you know your strengths and have the confidence to face life’s changes, is so important to good mental health.
Tune into your self esteem barometer
We can’t feel on a high all the time but being conscious of how we feel and taking corrective action when these feelings run off course is important to not only our own health but in building strong relationships.
Parents can do much to help nurture their children’s self-esteem when they model this self-esteem correcting behaviour.
Our self esteem can be affected by:
- What others think of us
When friends and family love us we feel valued,
Frequent “put downs”, criticism and arguments can make us feel lonely and depressed.
- Accumulated stressors e.g problems at work, home or school, failing relationships, can wear down our feelings that we can cope, control our lives and fulfil our dreams.
Symptoms of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is often easier to spot in others than in ourselves and may be expressed in some of the following ways:
- Withdrawal from social contact as the person affected hides into themselves and fails to talk to others about how they feel.
- Aggression, fighting with others, bullying tactics and “put downs”
- Denial, always pretending to be something they are not
- Clowning around, by making self-deprecating comments and making fun of others.
- Conforming and “people pleasing” behaviour in order to keep the peace.
- Deadening behaviour, using drugs or alcohol to make life more bearable.
The health risks of low self-esteem
Continually feeling and living this way can lead to mental and physical health problems such as:
Feeling unworthy can lead to the disordered eating of obesity or anorexia.
“what’s the point” ? “who cares anyway?” can be a common attitude leading to episodes of “comfort/binge” eating. The resulting weight gain carries its own risks of diabetes, stroke, heart disease etc.
In the case of anorexia it can be a way of trying to regain a sense of control over a life in turmoil.
Feelings of depression, gloom and guilt such as “I can’t get interested in anything”, “I’ve let the side down can lead to fatigue, poor concentration, sleep problems and restlessness.
Alcoholism and drug dependency
Having one or two drinks may initially act as a relaxant, dulling the pain and raising confidence however tolerance varies individually and tends to follow a “U” shaped curve. Early highs can be quickly followed by a downward spiral of mood and risk taking behaviours.
Drug taking can also follow a similar path of mood swings, however regular use soon leads to shorter attention spans, a distorted sense of time, difficulty concentrating, unreasonable resentments and a desire to separate out from old relationships. Things which once offered stability, structure and confidence building are replaced by secretive behaviour and failing abilities.
Accidents and Suicide
In extreme cases the aggression, clowning around and deadening behaviours can lead to greater risk taking, accidents and even death.
Tips to help raise self-esteem
- Begin by noting down who you are:
What are your strengths and talent’s?
What do you enjoy doing and do well?
What could you do better and what plans have you got to overcome your weaknesses?
- Learn to accept compliments, they are like gifts from people’s hearts.
- Try something new
- Set some goals beginning with something small and achievable in a day then moving on to harder ones involving greater commitment as your confidence grows.
- Look after your health, eat regularly and well and gradually extend the time you exercise
- Start noticing and appreciating the things you already have.
- Reach out to others. Noticing when others do well doesn’t need to diminish your own sense of self-worth.
- Giving someone a gift, a smile a compliment diverts your inward gaze and low self-confidence and opens your eyes to the world and the possibilities that are also awaiting you.
If you would like to find out how to put more energy into your day, so that you can pursue a happier, healthier life then contact us today
We can’t direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.
Self esteem: Health promotion, Public health service, Healthlink South
Scott T, Grice T. The great brain robbery. The Publishing Trust, Wellington 1996