COVID-19 affects mental health. Most of the news is about people with underlying physical health issues and how the virus is extra dangerous to them. Have no doubt, those of us with mental health diagnoses are also at extra risk and we don't even have to be exposed to experience the fallout.
Self-Care - Building Self Esteem
Self-esteem is a basic human need, but it's not a primary need. It's natural that you are motivated to build healthy self-esteem, however. But did you know that there are prerequisites for maintaining the motivation you need to focus on successfully building self-esteem? I want to share a story about a time when I had poor self-esteem, and my situation demanded I focus on my primary needs first.
Building a habit of self-care can build self-esteem. Practicing self-care regularly will lead us to accept the belief that we are worthy of loving and taking care of ourselves as best as we possibly can. Taking good care of ourselves allows us to be our best, and feeling your best will improve your self-esteem.
Setting reasonable expectations for yourself can create healthy self-esteem, while unreasonable expectations can negatively affect your self-esteem. When you don't meet your goals, you disappoint yourself and possibly others. If you have healthy self-esteem you trust yourself to fulfill your commitments. I'm going to share how learning to set reasonable expectations for myself made me successful last week and helped me build a stronger sense of self-esteem.
Bad habits--they're pesky little things, aren't they? I imagine just reading the phrase makes you picture one of yours. Maybe your bad habit is biting your nails, or not responding to texts, or leaving the dishes in the sink. It's the thing you do that deep down, you know you don't like. But sometimes our bad habits aren't just small annoyances. Sometimes they burrow into our identity and affect our ability to build self-esteem. When bad habits affect self-esteem, what do we do?
How's your body image? Are you attractive? Do you like the way you look? Do other people think you're beautiful? It's hard to talk about body image without sinking deep into our most vulnerable places. As standards of beauty become progressively less realistic (hello Instagram filters, goodbye pores), being able to have an honest conversation with ourselves about our looks becomes increasingly difficult. Yet we each live within our own, unique bodies every day–being able to look at them in a realistic (and non-damaging) way is a valuable tool towards understanding who we are, developing a healthy body image, and ultimately towards building self-esteem.
For years you’ve heard that self-care for your mental health is essential, but many people find the concept hard to implement in their lives. Professionals and people who love you likely give you self-care for mental health ideas to try but they don’t understand that adding in something to your life is a challenge, especially when struggling with a mental health condition.
There's a connection between low self-esteem and self-harm as having low self-esteem can sometimes lead to repetitive, destructive habits1 – including self-harming behavior. It’s important to be aware of why having a warped and negative opinion of yourself can lead to self-harm, as well as take note of the positive coping mechanisms you can adopt when times get tough.
The habit of seeking approval from others can destroy your self-esteem. When people around you are concerned that you have low self-esteem or that you always harshly criticise yourself, they will want to point out all of your likable characteristics and virtues. These comments may come from a place of care and support and may be just what you need to snap out of negative self-talk. However, there is also a risk of relying on these self-esteem boosts from others in order to feel good about yourself. If you want to gain and maintain a stronger form of self-esteem, it’s vital to determine your own self-worth and to stop seeking approval from others.
Self-compassion and self-esteem both help us develop ourselves and create wellbeing. But some psychologists argue that we should focus on practicing self-compassion because it is superior to building self-esteem.1 Dr. Kristin Neff is a well-known proponent of this view. She believes that trying to raise your self-esteem can lead to major downsides, including narcissism, anger and resentment. But while it may be true that we could all benefit from self-compassion and should avoid these drawbacks, this doesn’t mean we should ignore self-esteem. It can still play a vital role in our wellbeing.