10 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is one of the cornerstones of psychological well-being. Maintaining a secure, accepting relationship with the self is one of the most beneficial things we can do to show up meaningfully in the world. Low self-esteem is a deep-rooted belief that we are not as worthy as other people – which is, of course, completely untrue. Everybody on this planet is equally deserving of taking up space, including you. Here are some effective practices for boosting self-esteem.
1. Do what you love
What activities make your heart swell? What do you enjoy doing that gives you a sweet sense of calm and fulfillment, and leaves you wondering where the time went? Do more of that, and do it just for you. Research from the HeartMath Institute shows that taking part in activities we enjoy generates a coherent cardiac rhythm, which in turn contributes to a greater sense of well-being, long-term health, and resilience.
2. Disrupt negative thought patterns
Some of the cruelest things we hear about ourselves come from inside our own heads. Fortunately, we also have the power to change these thought loops of self-criticism, self-blame, and negative beliefs – because they are just that: thoughts. They are an interpretation of our reality. The first step is to stop them in their tracks by simply observing them. From there, can you change ‘I failed’ to ‘I tried’? What else could you cut yourself some slack on? Be as kind to yourself as you would be to anybody else you really care about, and remember that no one is perfect.
3. Be honest about your feelings
Hiding, burying, and numbing ourselves to how we truly feel is an incubator for shame, and toxic shame – the kind that doesn’t dissipate quickly, and instead lingers until it contaminates the way we see ourselves – is extremely damaging to our sense of self. It distorts our perception of who we are, and keeps us from forging true connections with others. If you experience this, find somebody you can confide in, whether that’s a friend or family member, or somebody who is trained to listen, such as a coach or therapist. You can also start by keeping a journal and simply allowing yourself to explore what’s going on inside you. Once things are out in the open, they hold so much less power.
4. Establish your go-to self-care practices
Self-care comes in many different forms. Essentially, it’s about calming your nervous system and creating space to just be with yourself, with no agenda. Popular self-care tools include taking a bath, listening to music, and getting a massage, but you can do anything that shows your body, mind, and soul that you are worthy of your care and love.
5. Assert your boundaries
You are as deserving as anybody else in your life to have your needs met – and you are the only one who really knows what those needs are. Boundaries are often overstepped when other people – even loved ones – make demands on our time and energy that can leave us depleted, stressed, or anxious. Start by looking at where you need to pull back, and practice saying ‘no’ – or at least, ‘not today’. Think of the classic safety advice of putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others around you, in the event of an emergency on an airplane: Similarly, it is important to meet our own needs first, and understand that we are not being selfish or self-absorbed by making those needs a priority through the use of boundaries. When you honor yourself fully by setting and maintaining boundaries, you are better able to show up for friends and family outside of them, in a much more meaningful way.
6. Find a mantra that brings you peace
Positive affirmation works! Repeated mantras like ‘I am enough’, ‘I am worthy of love’, or ‘I am a super awesome human capable of doing anything I put my mind to’ can override the negative belief systems that get stuck in our subconscious. Mantras effectively rewire the brain so that your mindset and attitude change. A sense of self-worth is then instilled deep in the body. Think about how you would truly like to feel about yourself and say it, write it, sing it, read it, and allow yourself to believe it, as often as you can.
7. Accept compliments
Many of us are conditioned to brush off compliments. But the next time you receive one, think about why that person is saying what they are saying. Could there be some truth to it? What would happen if you just said ‘thank you’ and accepted it? It might take a while to overcome the instinct to wave it away or self-deprecate, but treat it like any practice, and keep trying.
8. Move your body
Dance, run, skip, do roly-polies around the living room… do whatever feels good. Start a yoga practice, join a boxing club, or simply get walking. When we move our bodies for the joy of it, we are reminded of how strong and capable we are. Our bodies have the capacity for a great amount of physical pleasure and satisfaction, and it’s important to lean into that as often as we can.
9. Keep a gratitude journal
Maintaining a daily gratitude practice has been proven to improve well-being and life satisfaction, which in turn correlates with higher self-esteem. At the end of each day, write down all of the things that made you feel good or that you are thankful for, and try to include one thing that you can appreciate about yourself.
10. Manage your social media feeds
Social media can have a huge impact on our self-esteem, and often leaves us comparing our everyday reality to someone else’s highlight reel. Curate your feed to make sure you are seeing a wide range of body types, sizes, ethnicities, abilities, and lifestyles. Unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. And of course, be mindful of the scroll hole. Limit your social media consumption, and stay present in your own uniquely beautiful life.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals that influenced this article: Gratitude and Well-Being: The Benefits of Appreciation; Cardiac Coherence, Self-Regulation, Autonomic Stability, and Psychosocial Well-Being
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