The Importance of Self-Esteem
Why is Self-Esteem Important for Mental Health in 2023?
It is impossible to overstate the importance of self-esteem and mental health in achieving personal goals and strengthening the relationship you have with yourself and others. This year, commit to developing your self-esteem and be amazed at the benefits it will have on nearly every aspect of your life.
“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
– Henry David Thoreau, writer, philosopher, naturalist
As the new year begins, many people are considering ways in which they can better their lives. Finding a new job, restarting a regular exercise routine, socializing more, drinking less—there are so many things to think about on our path to self-improvement. However, it is important to make sure that any change that happens is building upon a solid foundation, and this is where the need to examine self-esteem and mental health is so critical.
How we regard ourselves—what we value, respect and love about who we are—impacts every part of our relationship with ourselves and others, as well as our general outlook. While your self-esteem, or lack thereof, doesn’t determine if you will have a mental health disorder, having low self-esteem can put you at greater risk of developing conditions like depression and anxiety that can lead to other unhealthy coping mechanisms and generally lower your quality of life.
Prioritizing self-esteem and mental health, and cultivating the healthy ways in which you view yourself, can have profoundly positive impacts on your life.
What Does Self-Esteem Mean?
Self-esteem is more than just feeling good about yourself, and is not related to ranking yourself favorably in comparison to others. Self-esteem refers to your overall and long- term perception of your personal abilities, qualities, and characteristics. People with strong self-esteem tend to have positive but realistic views about themselves, believe that they have self-worth even when they are challenged, and strive towards personal growth and improvement.
Do I have low self-esteem?
You may have a general sense of what your self-esteem levels are at, but are unsure if some of your tendencies suggest you may not be truly valuing yourself. For example, you might wonder something like, “I’m a people pleaser—do people pleasers have low self-esteem?”
The answer is that people pleasers often need external validation to compensate for their own lack of self-worth or value, which indicates a low sense of self-esteem. Other indicators of low self-esteem include things like:
Common causes of low self-esteem
There are many factors that can cause low self-esteem. People who have had:
How Does Self-Esteem Affect Mental Health?
The American Psychological Association links strong self-esteem to good mental health due to its impacts on a person’s ability to cope with adversity and put things in perspective. People with high self-esteem tend to deal with stress and challenge constructively, focusing on the solution rather than the problem and actively looking for ways to soothe themselves and bounce back when challenges arise.
Conversely, low self-esteem can make it more difficult to move past challenges or criticism, and more likely for a person to take something personally. This can make someone more easily swept up in negative emotions that are destructive rather than constructive, and have a harder time regulating stress. This is part of why low self-esteem has been linked to a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, substance use, and eating disorders.
6 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem and Mental Health in 2023
Some of us experience challenges with our self-esteem from time to time, while others will have more prolonged struggles due to the presence of contributing factors. Most people can benefit from intentional work to cultivate self-esteem and mental health, which lays a strong foundation for personal growth and a positive outlook. Here are a few ways you can improve your self-esteem and mental health in 2023:
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Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist