5 Things that could be harming your self-esteem
You might not realise it, but your self-esteem is pretty fragile, and for many of us, it's something we have to work to improve. There can be many causes of low self-esteem, from problems in your childhood to a more general lack of confidence, but the important thing is to recognise what's causing or harming your self-esteem so that you can address the problem.
We've all suffered knocks to our self-esteem, whether that's losing a job, experiencing a break-up or even something minor such as feeling bad about the way we look. But it's when these things start to effect us to the point we feel depressed and anxious they become a problem. If you're struggling to motivate yourself to go to the gym or socialise with friends this winter, it could be a sign that something is wrong (other than the fact it's cold outside). We thought we'd look at these 5 things that could be harming your self-esteem, and how you can make things better.
#1. Your posture
It might sound like an odd thing to say, but the way you carry yourself can really impact your self-esteem. Research carried out in the past suggests that those who slump find it easier to generate negative thoughts (1). Slouching at a desk isn't great for you physically either; it can cause lower back pain and shoulder or neck problems, but beyond physical risks, poor posture can impact your self-image. Research has linked expansive posture with a feeling of control, power and confidence (2).
Whilst standing up straight won't cure your self-esteem issues, it can certainly help you to feel better both physically and mentally – try sitting upright at your desk or use a standing desk, and carry out some simple exercises and stretches.
#2. Your diet
We all know the saying, “You are what you eat,” and to some extent it's very true! Ever felt sluggish after chowing down on a cheeky chocolate bar or a bag of Doritos? Not to mention a bit disgusted with yourself, because you're supposed to be on that healthy eating kick? Besides the mental effects that a poor diet can have on you, choosing the wrong foods can actually impact you physically too. We know that certain foods provide us with a mood boost – brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains, slow-release carbs and so forth. So it makes sense that some foods can also bring us down, such as sugary treats, which cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash, leaving you feeling lethargic. If you're already having a bad day and you turn to sweet treats, you could find yourself feeling worse. Eating a healthy, varied diet and taking the time to cook – it doesn't have to be anything complex – means you know exactly what you're putting in your body, and you should feel proud of yourself for sticking to your healthy eating goals.
#3. Your negative thoughts
We all have negative thoughts, and positive thoughts, but it's when things start to get out of balance that problems can arise. If you find yourself constantly putting yourself down, beating yourself up about something you did or didn't do, or turning all your focus inwards on yourself, this can really affect your self-esteem. It's important to remember that we all have that negative inner voice, but other people are usually so caught up in their own problems and worries that they won't pay much attention to the things that are concerning you. If you're worried about how you look, your hair or that spot that's suddenly appeared on your chin, the chances are nobody will notice.
If you're beating yourself up about losing your job or failing an exam, ask yourself how you would treat a friend who was in your position. You wouldn't tell them what a loser they are; you'd offer support and kind words of encouragement, treat them to dinner or a chat to make them feel better. You can treat yourself kindly too; give yourself positive reinforcement, cook yourself your favourite meal, spend time around people you love and don't give the negativity a chance to breed.
#4. Overly-critical people
We've all come across people who are overly-critical. They might not mean to be this way, but if you have someone in your life who is constantly putting you down or telling you ways that you could 'improve' yourself, it's time to find a new friend. This type of behaviour can really impact your self-esteem and make you feel like you're not good enough, and it can quickly spiral out of control, leaving you depressed and isolated. Your friends should support you and give you good advice – it's ok for them to be honest if you ask them for their opinion, but there's no need for them to talk down to you or suggest things you could do to be a better person if you haven't asked for their help.
One way to deal with people like this is to cut them out of your life, but if that isn't an option or this is a good friend who has suddenly become critical, talk to them. It could be that there's an aspect of their life they are unhappy with and they don't feel able to talk about it. This means they take it out on other people by criticising their behaviour. Maybe they need some support and advice to deal with their issues!
#5. Your personal care
We all like to look our best, but if you're noticing you feel less confident than usual, perhaps it has something to do with your grooming routine? If you work from home or have recently become unemployed, it can be tempting to lounge around all day in joggers and a vest – unsurprisingly this doesn't do wonders for your self-confidence or your mood. Taking the time to get up, get showered and dressed every day not only makes you look good, it can brighten your mood and even give you more energy. The better you look, the better you'll feel, and this can impact on every area of your life – you're more likely to say yes to social invites from friends if you feel you look good, and if you feel filled with energy, going for a run or session at the gym will seem much less like hard work.
There are lots of things out there in the world that can impact on our self-esteem and well-being - for some people, they feel this more than others. Even if you're sensitive to what's going on around you, you can boost your self-esteem by ensuring you're aware of what impacts it and taking steps to avoid these things or reduce their impact on your life.
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