Published on May 27, 2022

Wrapping Up Mental Health Awareness Month: How You can Improve Your Self-Esteem

By: Judy Zellner, LPCC

Since we are approaching the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’d like to touch on a very common subject that we see in the mental health field – Self-Esteem Issues. What do you think of when you hear the word “self-esteem”? I’m sure we all have an idea of what this means. Simply stated, it is what we think, feel and believe about ourselves. However, it really isn’t as simple as that. An important thing to know is that there are many factors that influence self-esteem at any given time in your life and it can fluctuate throughout your lifetime.

The things that lower our self-esteem can be different for everyone. Difficult life experiences can typically be a factor, such as abuse as a child or an adult, relationship problems, inability to work/financial issues, physical health problems. Also, how you treat yourself can influence your self-esteem, such as how you talk to yourself (self-talk), criticizing yourself, seeing yourself as “not important”.

Many of us in the mental health field see individuals that experience low self-esteem. It is possible to build your self-esteem, and to have a healthy sense of who you are. You can become less critical of yourself and others, you can better handle the stress in your life, you can better express yourself, and stand up for yourself. You can make better decisions and be able to bounce back when faced with life’s challenges. You can believe that you deserve happiness and fulfillment.

So, we need to ask ourselves, how can I improve my self-esteem? There are many useful ways to do this, but don’t get discouraged. Experiment with some of these ideas and realize that you may not see improvements overnight. Keep your eye on the prize—feeling better about yourself.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is a very easy thing to do, especially with all the social media outlets. Someone’s life is probably not as perfect as they portray on social media.
  2. Stop belittling yourself. Ask yourself, would I talk to a loved one or friend this way? We need to stop beating ourselves up and be kinder to ourselves.
  3. Use positive self-affirmations to build our self-esteem. Examples are “I believe in me”, “I am not my mistakes”, “positivity is a choice and I choose to be positive”, “I am enough”, “I deserve love, compassion and empathy”.
  4. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. When you are around positive, supportive people, you feel better about yourself and your self-esteem will increase.
  5. Dwell on your positive qualities. Make a list and read it often. Most people dwell on their negative qualities, which lowers self-esteem.
  6. Give back. Not necessarily in a financial way. When you do things for others, you feel as you have value. For example, smile and say “hi” to someone in the grocery store. You may be the only one that person has talked to on that day.
  7. Pay attention to self-care. Get enough sleep, do some physical activity and spend some time outside, do something that you enjoy. Stay away from alcohol and recreational drugs. Good self-care can definitely improve self-esteem.

Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to be aware of our mental health. But remember, it is not just important in the month of May. It is important all year around.