Self-esteem… that thing many people think is just a fluffy feeling and, if you could hold it, would look and feel like candyfloss.

But, it’s a good deal more than that… in fact it’s the secret to a happy life. But is so hard to manage and get right. When we think of ourselves, we can very quickly tie ourselves in knots worrying about what someone might be thinking about us, or why we think negative thoughts all the time. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone! Self-esteem is something that goes up and down throughout our lives, depending on what we’re facing at any given time. Some signs that our self-esteem is struggling a bit are:

Constantly comparing ourselves to others
Blaming ourselves for the actions of others
Seeking approval from others
Feeling frightened to reach for our dreams because we have so little faith in what we can achieve
Feeling undeserving of help and kindness
Playing down achievements
Fearing rejection
Feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless and unlovable.

I want to give you 5 ways in which you can help your self-esteem to soar, even in difficult times:

1. Practice self-care
It’s so important that we look after ourselves as best we can and treat ourselves gently and kindly – the way we love ourselves has a huge impact on our overall well-being and the way we handle tough situations. Be sure to do 1 thing every day that you love, it may be sitting alone with a favourite book, watching your favourite movie or walking in the fresh air. Whatever it is, make it a daily part of your routine, it will help!

2. Try not to compare yourself to others
This is easier said than done and it can be really difficult, but maybe write down something every day that you like about you, something that you can look back on during the times of self-comparison and remember the exceptional qualities that you have.

3. Break things down
When we have a huge mountain of goals to achieve it can be hard to climb them, so the best thing you can do is set small achievable goals. Sometimes people use the word SMART to achieve this – Specific Measureable Achievable Realistic Time-limited. Using this can help you to better achieve the big goals in your life.

4. Think about who you spend time with
Hanging out with those people that make you feel ‘icky’ will not set your self-esteem up well. So, if you can identify the people in your life that make you feel bad about who you are, try and see them less. We all have to spend time with people that are difficult from time to time but, if you can identify who they are and limit your time with them, I guarantee it will make an impact on how you feel about yourself.

5. Self-esteem collage
Use magazine cuttings to make a collage of all the things you love in life or your hopes and aspirations. Hang this above your bed or somewhere in your room, when you look at it think of all the hopes, dreams and loves that you have.

These things are fairly simple, but I hope they go some way to helping you manage all the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself.

By Ruth Ayres

Ruth has worked with young people
for many many years, into double figures!
She is passionate about helping young
people reach their full potential anyway
she can and is particularly passionate about
the area of mental and emotional health.
She lives in Buckinghamshire with her
husband and two cats, she enjoys good food
and meaningful friendships.

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