As humans, we are all connected by the universal need to feel good about ourselves. This is known as self-esteem and it is an essential component of our mental well-being. Low levels of self-esteem can have a damaging effect on our health and may also lead to issues such as depression and anxiety or stress. Fortunately, there are positive steps that we can take to build our self-esteem and create a better overall sense of well-being. Let’s look at the relationship between self-esteem and mental health in more detail.
In this article:
What is self-esteem and why it’s important for mental health
The definition of self-esteem is the opinion or value we place on ourselves. It is the way in which we perceive our worth and abilities and it affects all aspects of our lives. Healthy self-esteem is important for psychological health because it helps us to have a positive outlook, manage stress, feel secure in relationships and make decisions that are right for us.
Studies have shown that there is a strong connection between high self-esteem and good mental health. People with low self-esteem tend to be more prone to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, inadequacy, or insecurity; all of which can lead to issues like depression or anxiety. In order to maintain a healthy mind, it is important for us to cultivate a healthy attitude towards ourselves. This means understanding our strengths and weaknesses and accepting ourselves for who we are.
How low self-esteem can affect mental health
Low self-esteem can have a profoundly negative effect on the way we think about ourselves. It can contribute to feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt, hindering an individual's ability to deal with stress or take risks. It can also lead to anxiety and depression, both of which can greatly impact an individual's overall well-being. Importantly, low self-esteem can often be addressed through talking therapy or other forms of psychological intervention. Seeking assistance from a trained professional is essential for addressing issues of low self-esteem in order to learn healthy coping strategies.
Self-image is deeply connected to how we navigate the world around us. Without a sense of value in relation to ourselves and our environment, we find it harder to make decisions or pursue positive outcomes. Low self-esteem can also make it difficult for you to recognise your own strengths, leading to further feelings of failure or inadequacy. It is more important than ever that those struggling with their perception of themselves have the help they need before the cycle of mental illness intensifies.
Examples of how low self-esteem can manifest in depression, anxiety, and stress
Avoiding social situations or activities, even if they are enjoyable
This is often a common sign of low self-esteem and can be one of the most devastating effects. Low self-esteem can lead to feelings of insecurity and worthlessness that cause people to develop unhealthy coping strategies such as avoiding social activities that they once enjoyed.
Low motivation and low energy levels
Low motivation and low energy levels are two common symptoms of low self-esteem. When a person feels low self-worth, they often struggle to find the inspiration and energy it takes to complete everyday tasks. This low energy can lead to feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion, further interfering with an individual's ability to function normally.
Difficulty making decisions
Low self-esteem can lead to feeling overwhelmed and indecisive and people feel unable to trust in their own abilities and instead rely on external sources for validation. This in turn can create an inability to make confident decisions.
Negative self-talk and self-criticism
Negative self-talk and self-criticism are common issues, due to low self-worth and low confidence, you may find that you blame yourself for things that are ultimately out of your control. Negative self-talk refers to a negative inner dialogue or the habit of speaking harshly to ourselves in a manner that is not constructive. Self-criticism and lack of belief are the tendencies to focus solely on our mistakes and imperfections, rather than seeing our successes. Both of these behaviours can lead to further psychological problems.
Build a healthy sense of worth and improve your self-esteem
Improving self-esteem isn’t something that happens overnight, it takes time and effort. Here are some tips on how you can start cultivating a healthier attitude towards yourself:
Practice positive affirmations – When you catch yourself having negative thoughts about yourself or your abilities, take a moment to speak kindly to yourself instead. Replace “I can’t do this” with “I will give it my best shot!”
Make a list of your qualities – Writing down your strengths (or even just one!) is an effective way to remind yourself that you have value and worth as an individual.
Celebrate your successes – Big or small, remember to recognise each victory along the way! Take pride in your accomplishments no matter what they may be.
Stay organised – A cluttered space leads to clutter in the mind; so keep things tidy both inside and outside.
Surround yourself with supportive people – Positive relationships help us grow in ways we never thought possible, so reach out for support when needed from those who truly care about you.
Take care of yourself – Spend time doing activities that make you happy whether it be reading a book or taking leisurely walks around your neighbourhood. Make sure you prioritise time for yourself each day.
3 Simple activities you can do today to start building your self-esteem
1. Write down your positive affirmations
Write down positive affirmations on sticky notes and place them around the house where they can be seen often. Repeat these self belief affirmations to yourself often to reinforce positive thinking.
2. Keep a gratitude journal - "Things I'm Grateful for Today"
Keep a journal and write down at least one thing you are grateful for each day. This helps shift focus from negative thoughts to positive ones, which can be a major boost to self-esteem.
3. Learn a new skill
Take an online course or learn a new hobby at home. Accomplishing something new can give a sense of pride and achievement. Remember not to set yourself an impossible task, start with some simple free online learning courses like these by Upskillist. When you have finished learning your new skill, don't forget to celebrate your achievement! Every milestone counts when you are building your self-esteem.
Unlocking Your Potential: Cultivating a Healthy Sense of Self-Esteem
Having low levels of self-esteem can be detrimental to your overall; however, this doesn't mean that you should give up hope on improving your sense of worthiness. With dedication and practice, you can learn how to foster healthier attitudes towards yourself so you can live a happier life full of joy and fulfilment! Being able to recognise that your self-esteem is an important first step, and empowers you to work towards unlocking your full potential. Remember that you are capable of becoming the best version of yourself and don't be afraid to reach out for support when needed.
With the right attitude, low self-esteem does not have to stand in your way. You can start making positive changes today and take control of your life. So, go out there and start building your self-esteem! You got this!
The experienced psychotherapists at Talens Health Support Services are here to help you on your road to recovery. If you feel like professional advice and support will be beneficial to your journey, contact us today and book your free consultation.
Talens Health Support Services are here to provide you with the best possible professional care and support. Our team of BACP-registered psychotherapists offer private therapy and counselling services in an accessible, convenient way – all from the comfort of your own home. We strive to make sure that your sessions meet your personal needs. Get started today - your first appointment is free - you can find out more and book here.