February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month. Self-esteem is about how we value ourselves. It also helps our mental health. When self-esteem is high, we tend to see the world more positively. Self-esteem brings confidence and a strong sense of self, whereas when self-esteem is low, we’re self-critical, second-guess ourselves a lot, and have a general negative outlook on life.

Self-esteem can affect everything from decision-making to relationships and even your physical and mental health. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. This month we’re focusing on understanding what may affect self-esteem and how to improve it.

mental health

Self-esteem and mental health

Low self-esteem is not considered a mental health condition, but there are clear links between how we feel about ourselves and our overall emotional and mental well-being.

There are some ways that low self-esteem can affect mental health:

Toxic relationships

Toxic relationships can develop when we have low self-esteem because setting boundaries is hard when we don’t value ourselves. When we have little respect for ourselves, it’s hard to expect it from others. Those with low self-esteem often end up in friendships and relationships where they are taken advantage of and even emotionally or physically abused because they think they don’t deserve any better.

Addiction

Studies indicate that low self-esteem in childhood can be a risk factor for addiction in adulthood. Many people who live with substance use disorder use alcohol or drugs to help manage their negative feelings. Unfortunately, instead of helping their self-esteem,this type of behavior, along with the symptoms of addiction, can make it worse.

Depression and anxiety

Low self-esteem tends to work hand in hand with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and the combination is common. Someone already living with a mental health condition may develop low self-esteem because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. That stigma can exacerbate feelings of shame and embarrassment they may already have about their diagnosis.

How to Boost self-esteem

Boosting self-esteem isn’t like flipping a switch, and it won’t happen overnight. Overcoming ingrained thought processes takes a lot of hard work and commitment. Self-esteem issues are often rooted in negative thoughts and harmful self-talk.

Negative thoughts can consist of:

  • Self-blame

  • Catastrophizing

  • Imposter syndrome

  • Projection

Overgeneralizing, which is when someone interprets a negative situation as having consequences that are way out of proportion, is also common.

To boost self-esteem, we need to:

  • Identify and challenge negative beliefs

  • Identify and focus on our positive attributes

  • Nurture positive relationships and avoid toxic ones

  • Cut ourselves some slack every once in a while

  • Practice being assertive and setting boundaries

  • Take on new challenges and work on personal growth

  • Make sure to practice self-care

Therapy and self-esteem

Having good self-esteem is essential for overall well-being. Therapy is an effective tool in helping to change the deep-rooted feelings about ourselves. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help us understand why negative thoughts persist. A therapist can help identify and reduce negative self-talk.

At Serene Health, we offer a wide range of behavioral health and mental health services. If you need someone to talk to about self-esteem issues, give us a call at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to book an appointment. We offer late evening and weekend appointments from our Telehealth app so you can speak to a therapist from the comfort of your own home.