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How Low Self-Esteem Impacts Our Mental Health (And What To Do About It)

How Low Self-Esteem Impacts Our Mental Health (And What To Do About It)

Nov 05, 2021

The way we feel about ourselves is inextricably linked with our wellbeing and mental health: low self-esteem can lead to poor mental health, while suffering from any form of mental illness can cause our self-worth to plummet.

But why does self-esteem matter so much?

Our personal confidence levels have an enormous impact on just about every area of our lives – affecting the value you place on yourself as a person, the way you feel about past mistakes, how you allow people to treat you, how you treat yourself, whether you’re able to stand up for yourself, if you’re willing to try new things, how much time you dedicate to yourself, if you believe you’re worthwhile and deserving of happiness, and whether you can recognise your own strengths and abilities.

When you suffer from low self-esteem, you’re also more likely to develop anxiety and depression, and less able to make good decisions in your life. Put simply, how you feel about yourself is one of the most important projects you’ll ever work on.

What Causes Low Self-Esteem

A lack of self-esteem can develop at any time in our lives, for any number of reasons. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Mental and physical illness
  • Chronic stress
  • Experiencing bullying or abuse
  • Being subject to prejudice or discrimination
  • Being out of work or losing your job
  • Going through a separation or divorce
  • Lacking confidence in your appearance
  • Facing money worries
  • Worrying about housing

Whether low self-esteem is a longstanding issue or something you’ve faced only recently, it can be incredibly debilitating and make it really difficult to go about your daily life: a lack of confidence can hold you back from forming relationships, stepping out of your comfort zone, learning new skills, changing jobs, speaking your mind, or achieving your goals.

That’s why it’s really important to do something about it.

How to Tackle Low Self-Esteem

It’s time for some self-reflection: ask yourself what area(s) you’re really lacking confidence in. What do you think contributes to this? Have you struggled with this for a long time, or did something happen to knock your confidence?

Now think about what you’d want things to be like if they could be different; what three steps could you take towards making this change? Really visualise and act out the way you want to feel inside – taking time to invest in yourself, and ensuring that you make time for self-care to build your confidence and self-esteem.

You can explore these questions by yourself, discuss them with a trusted friend or family member, or take them along to a therapy session. It really doesn’t matter: the most important thing is that you’re looking inward, and getting to the heart of the matter.

You might also want to try:

  • Writing a journal about the things that make you happy, the kind things that people have said to you or done for you, and the nice things you’ve done for others.
  • Challenging yourself when you have unkind thoughts; ask yourself if you’d speak to someone you care about that way, and start to talk to yourself like you would a close friend.
  • Avoiding comparison. In this age of social media, we tend to hold ourselves to an impossibly high standard – but don’t compare yourself to someone’s else’s filtered highlight reel.
  • Looking after yourself by investing in a good diet and regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding self-medication through drugs or alcohol.
  • Building a support network of people you can talk to when you’re feeling low – whether that’s a list of helplines, or a circle of close friends you can call on.
  • Learning to be assertive by setting personal boundaries, not taking too much on, and giving yourself permission to say no.
  • Setting yourself a challenge that takes you out of your comfort zone; this can be as big or as small as you’re comfortable with.

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself at the beginning of your journey: change takes time; be patient with yourself.

About My Little Therapy Box

My Little Therapy Box mood cards help to promote self-care and self-reflection. The cards have a positive impact on your wellbeing by helping you to identify any areas in your life that you may be struggling with, and by giving you prompts to explore with yourself or others. You can use the cards whenever you want to reflect on your emotions. They are intentionally placed in a slimline tin so they can be easily stored in your bag, or kept on your bookshelf or in a drawer.

Find out more about My Little Therapy Box.

Access your FREE 'Creative Therapy Training'

My Little Therapy box all started with my passion for helping clients in therapy who struggle to open up and articulate their feelings into words.

In this 30-minute training session, I share the barriers some clients face in therapy and how we as therapists can help them overcome this by using creative ways to help them engage and get the most out of the therapeutic relationship.

This is the same presentation I was invited to deliver at this year’s BACP Annual Online conference.


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