Boosting Your Self-Esteem After a Tough Year

It’s probably fair to say that 2020 has been a tough year for most of us. It’s been filled with worry, uncertainty, and changes to the fundamental routines that we’ve built for ourselves. Your whole life might have been thrown upside down. You may have been ill, or worried about your own health and that of your family. You may have struggled with loneliness during the lockdown, and you may have found the lack of social options very limiting. Most of us suffered from some level of anxiety, even if our lives were only minimally affected. 

But, for some of us, the changes were far greater than not being able to meet friends and being worried about what might happen in the future. Some of us have been forced into homeschooling, forced to live away from our families to keep them safe, or made redundant. If 2020 has hit your self-esteem hard, it’s hardly surprising. 

What is Self-Esteem?

Put simply, self-esteem is how you think about yourself. If you have good self-esteem, you tend to think positive things. You may think that you look good, be proud of your achievements and see anything that you might not like about yourself as something that you can work on and improve, or something that you can let go, not something that defines you. 

Low self-esteem often causes the opposite feelings. When your self-esteem is low, you focus on those negatives and struggle to see the positives, even when other people are telling you. You might be far more critical of yourself, in terms of looks, achievements, and traits. You might worry that you aren’t good enough, or panic about having to do things, such as complete projects at work. 

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

At a time like this, something big such as losing your job, or struggling with your mental health in lockdown can have a massive impact on your self-esteem and confidence. But, it’s not always a big, obvious thing that knocks us. 

Many people find that their struggles with their self-esteem start in childhood. They may have had a teacher or parent that always highlighted what they had done wrong, or were bad at, and never praised them. 

Of course, sometimes there’s no cause as such. Some of us are just prone to negative and critical thinking. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to help yourself feel better. 

Why is it Important to Boost Your Self-Esteem When it is Low?

It’s so easy to carry low self-esteem through life. It can lead to serious mental health problems. It can make it hard to trust other people, to push yourself, to do well at work, and to form positive relationships. Low self-esteem can be something that holds you back and hurts your day to day life.

What is Healthy Self-Esteem Like?

Healthy self-esteem doesn’t mean that you are always happy and confident. It doesn’t mean that you think that you are great at everything. Even people with great self-esteem have doubts and things that they’d like to improve upon. But, they can see the positives, and they can push themselves to take new challenges and to become a better person, without feeling like they aren’t good enough, or it’s impossible. 

Find Things You are Good At

When self-esteem is low, it can be hard to think of things that you are good at. But, they are there. You might be a good friend or a sibling. You might be good at cheering your little sister up when they are sad, or good at making people laugh. You might be good at sports, or art. It could be anything. Write a list of things that you are good at to remind yourself when you need it. 

If you are struggling to come up with things, try something new. Have a go at new hobbies, and spend time practicing, enjoying seeing yourself improve. 

Build Positive Relationships

Photo by Ece AK from Pexels

Photo by Ece AK from Pexels

One of the drawbacks of low self-esteem is that it makes it hard to trust other people. When you don’t love yourself, it can be difficult to believe that others do, and hard to understand why they do. 

But, it works the other way too. If you can build and maintain good relationships by making time for the people that you love and spending more time with those that bring positivity to your life, your self-esteem will improve. 

Remove Negativity

On the other hand, those people who only ever criticise or compete, the people that bring you down, they need to go.

Practice Self-Care

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Self-care means something different for all of us, but. It’s always important. For you, it might be having a long bath and using your favourite Clarins products. It might be reading a book or going for a long walk on your own. It can be as simple as painting your nails or as big as heading to the spa for a weekend. Practice a little self-care every day and you’ll soon start to feel better.

Get Out of the House

When we’re feeling down it’s hard to motivate ourselves to move. We worry about what other people think about us, how we look, and what we can do. Staying in feels safer and more comfortable. But, if you can force yourself to get out, even if it’s just for a short walk, you will feel better. 

Challenge Yourself

A symptom of low self-esteem is feeling as though you can’t do things. You aren’t good enough, you don’t have the skills, and you will fail. When we feel like this we stop challenging ourselves, because we’re so worried about failure. 

However, if you do set yourself a challenge, you’ll soon see that you can do it. Set small, achievable targets, and praise yourself when you hit them. 

Try a Creative Hobby

Photo by Daian Gan from Pexels

Photo by Daian Gan from Pexels

One of the best things about creative hobbies is that you can’t do them wrong. There are no right or wrong answers, there’s no failure. Only creativity and self-expression. This can be very relaxing, and a great way to start feeling better about yourself. Even something fairly basic such as colouring in can be a useful boost. 

Do Something for Someone Else

One of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself is to do something for someone else. Being kind, helping people, and going out of your way for others will give you a mood boost and help you to see that you have got a lot to give. 

Surround Yourself with Things That Make You Happy

Fill your home with things that make you smile and with things that inspire you. Have books that you love, films that make you laugh, and photos that bring back happy memories on display. 

Put Some Effort into Your Appearance

Putting effort into your appearance doesn’t mean getting dressed up for other people or caring about what other people think. It can just be making a little more effort with the basics. Spend some time on yourself and you might feel like you deserve it.

Finding ways to build your self-esteem back up is crucial to maintaining a positive quality of life and being able to look to the future. But, don’t just assume that once it’s up at a high level it will stay there. Maintaining good self-esteem takes practice. You’ll need to spend time on self-care, listening to what your body and mind need, and making changes when you need to if you want to keep feeling great. For most of us, there’s no quick fix, but instead a mixture of lifestyle changes that are the most effective. 

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad