I’ve certainly had my fair share of struggles in relation to low self-esteem, but I’ve developed a fool-proof routine that gets me out of the slump. In general, if I’m focusing my attention on the lives of others, whether that be scrolling mindlessly on social media or simply prioritising others in my life, I find that I am neglecting my own needs. Taking time out to recharge and spend some time solely on myself makes me feel confident and refreshed. Switch off your phone and relish your time alone.
Whilst you can do just one of the items on the list, it really does work best to do as a five-step routine in the specific order to truly maximise the benefits and boost your self-esteem sky high.
Sweat It Out
When my self-esteem is running on empty, I know what works as a sure-fire way to refuel my self-confidence: getting sweaty. We all know that exercise releases those feel-good chemicals, endorphins, so let’s get that “runner’s high”.
Exercise has long been scientifically proven to boost self-esteem, and is even recommended by medical professionals to use to help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. Aiming to do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week is the current guideline for adults. If I am feeling a little shaky in my own self-worth, I change into my workout gear and work up a sweat.
Some times, I’ll feel in the mood to pound the weights, other times I’ll fancy some vigorous HIIT, and other times I engage in some restorative yoga. It’s all about listening to your body and doing what feels good in that moment. As a relatively lazy person, I always give myself a huge pat on the back for getting off my backside and getting my heart rate up. The self-esteem boost I get from actually getting off my ass and doing something physical simply cannot be overstated.
Plus, after I’ve knackered myself out with a good sweat-sesh, I sleep like a baby the following night. Getting a full night’s sleep means I wake up in a better mood and feel confident to tackle the day ahead of me. It’s a win-win, really.
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer
After I’ve worked up a sweat, I have a small healthy snack (an apple or some nuts), and start my physical self-care routine. I hop in the shower, shampoo and condition my hair, exfoliate, and lather myself up with lovely smelling soaps. I let the warm water wash over me, and metaphorically wash away my shitty self-esteem, too.
After my shower, I change into some clean and comfy clothes and get started on my physical self-care. Depending on my mood, I might throw on a face mask, give myself a manicure, or moisturise myself from top to toe. Even something as simple as brushing my teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash gives me a confidence boost. Keep in mind that taking care of your physical wellbeing is just as important as ensuring your mental state is looked after, too!
Low self-esteem can be triggered if you’re feeling overwhelmed with intrusive thoughts.
Choosing to carve out time specifically dedicated to yourself is a great step in improving your self-esteem both in the short and long term.
If you’re new to meditation, start slowly. Try out guided meditation, such as Headspace or find a video on YouTube. Alternatively, set a timer for 5 minutes and clear your mind of all thoughts. The aim is to be fully present in your meditation practice.
Let go of all stresses; if you find your mind wandering, simply bring it back to the present moment. If you’re struggling, try focusing on your breath, your posture, and the sensations of the room. Notice when your thoughts go off to other things and just remind yourself to bring it back to the present moment. Don’t scold yourself if you find your mind wandering, it’s totally normal at first! Simply refocus your thoughts on the present moment – close your eyes and recharge: allow yourself to not think.
Meditation is great to build up yourself self-esteem as it allows you to tune out any negative thoughts, even if just for a moment. Over time, those negative thoughts about yourself will slowly disappear. You’ll find they have less of a hold on you, and with consistent practice, you’ll find your self-esteem reaching new heights.
Write Your Heart Out
Often, we struggle with low self-esteem when we feel overwhelmed, inadequate, or incapable. A great way to remove these thoughts from your mind is to get them out from your brain and on to paper. Try this simple exercise to remind yourself that you’re so much more than your negative thoughts.
Fetch two pieces of paper and a pen. Sit yourself down at a desk or table and sit upright.
Breathe in and out, get comfortable, and maintain good posture throughout this exercise.
Think about what is making you feel insecure: be specific and try to focus on the root of why you feel that way. Notice the sensations you feel: did something in particular happen today to make you feel this way? Write things without using the word “I” and avoid placing blame on yourself, but rather try to examine the events that happened to make you feel that way. Write it out on the first sheet of paper and let go of that feeling. Put that sheet of paper to one side.
On the second piece of paper, create a mind map. Write your name in the middle of the page. Focus on your intrinsic qualities that make you, you. Jot down your favourite things about yourself: are you a warm, loving person? Do you help others and provide assistance to those in need? Are you a hard-working, organised, and intelligent? Write down as many words that describe yourself, and think about how people who love you perceive you.
Grab both sheets of paper. Destroy the first sheet of paper: tear it up, burn it, feed it to the dog – whatever. As you get rid of this paper, imagine those negative thoughts of yourself being eliminated, too. Stand up from your chair and ead over the second sheet of paper out loud. Speak confidently and repeat the words as positive affirmations. Hear the words; believe in them.
Pay It Forward
Striking a balance between taking care of others and taking care of yourself is so important to maintain healthy relationships with your friends, family, and loved ones. At this stage of the routine, we should be feeling more inspired, capable, and confident. Let’s put this positive energy to good use and pay it forward!
Think about your skills and talents, and how they can be put to use to help someone in need. Perhaps you can teach a friend a new skill, get creative and make something for your parents, or you could channel your kindness towards the world and go litter picking. Helping someone else out reinforces all the positives about yourself that you just listed on the sheet of paper in the previous exercise. By sharing your skills with someone else you’ll experience a huge boost in your self-esteem and feel that glow of self-satisfaction.
Finally, give yourself a genuine, warm smile and feel gratitude for your ability to work through your insecurities. Thank yourself for working through your low self-esteem and remember that you are valued, loved, and important. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder of that, but as long as we center ourselves and don’t lose sight of it, we can work towards a more fulfilled and confident life.
Rebecca Da Silva is freelance writer and small business owner (seriously, she’s very tiny). She enjoys long-term travel, drinking earl grey tea, and has a penchant for learning new things. Her blog becular.com is all about travel, minimalism, and sustainable living. Follow her journey on Instagram @ _becular. Rebecca is the founder of Zero Cup – a reusable menstrual cup that provides an eco-friendly alternative to pads & tampons.