‘You should exercise more, eat healthily, and go to sleep earlier.’ Anyone else want to hide under the duvet when you hear this advice?
It’s not that we don’t champion these things at The Self-Esteem Team, but we understand that struggling with confidence can feel like a relentless merry-go-round you can’t get off of, and the idea of a treadmill, a salad or an early night is forever out of reach.
So, we’ve come up with 5 tips that you can do from the comfort of your own bed to boost self-esteem. And most importantly, they are all FREE, because despite what adverts or celebs might try to flog you online, you don’t need to part with your cash to feel good about yourself.
1) Put pen to paper
Whether you’re the next J.K. Rowling or can barely draw a stickman, getting your thoughts from inside to outside is a simple yet effective tool. It not only helps thoughts exist in a space other than your head, but also allows you to look at problems objectively and think ‘how would I advise a mate going through that?’ – then apply that advice to yourself. You can also try writing down worries before you go to sleep at night and leaving those pieces of paper in another room or even ripping them up and chucking them away, as this will allow you to distance yourself from the issues. If writing your own words doesn’t feel right, try jotting down lyrics to the songs you feel you relate to most on post-it notes and stick them round your room, these DIY posters can help be a voice to what’s going on internally. Or if words aren’t your thing, try painting, sketching or doodling.
2) Learn to say no
This applies to boundaries in every context, whether sexual consent, a mate blagging too many favours, or someone asking you something you’re not comfortable with. Always remember, ’No’ is a complete sentence and doesn’t require justification. Sure, it is human nature to be a people-pleaser, we’re all guilty of doing things we don’t always want to do so that we can avoid conflict or get approval from others, though practicing saying no out loud will empower you to say it when the time comes for real. Learning to assert yourself in tricky situations will always put you back in the driving seat when under pressure to do something you don’t want.
3) The F Word
Failure. Failure. Failure. It’s a word we avoid like the plague. We put so much weight on failure being something negative and embarrassing, that we forget to see its power in teaching us new things. This means, when we fail as individuals, we feel isolated and like we’re the only person it happens to. Yet we will ALL fail at sometime in our life, because it’s human nature – whether it’s an exam, the person we fancy not fancying us back, not getting into uni or not getting the job we want. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options for us though, such as resits, entrepreneurial paths, other people, other unis and other jobs. Sometimes it just means changing direction to see what else is out there for us. If we accept that failure is a reality of life, then we can work with it rather than against it. And always know, if you happen to fail, you are not dumb, you’re just learning.
4) Empower with knowledge
Ever had anxiety so bad it feels like your heart is about to burst out your chest? Or ever feel so blue you can’t bear the thought of being around other people? Or perhaps you find your mood yo-yos 1000 times a day and don’t know why? If you learn about why these things happen, it means that when they do, it doesn’t feel so alien when you know what’s going on inside. If, for example, you read up on what panic attacks are, and that they are caused by hyperventilation from breathing out too much carbon dioxide while breathing too fast or too shallow, all of a sudden it paints a picture of why they happen. This can make them a lot less scary and overwhelming should they happen again, knowing it is the body’s physical response to feeling panicked, and that you are safe and can pull through it.
5) Talk to your folks
We ran a campaign called #TeenMe a while back and asked people what they would tell the younger version of themselves given the chance. One of the top comments was ’talk to mum and dad’. When we’re young parents feel so old and distant from us, though think of it this way, if you had a kid and they were struggling, do you think you’d want to know how they were doing so you could help them and they didn’t have to go it alone? If face-to-face is too tricky, try writing them a letter and sliding it under their door, that way you get to draft it as many times as you like so it’s just right. For those with strict parents, or folks who just don’t seem to be on your wavelength, letters are good to avoid a screaming match and to help you de-scramble the words on paper that might not verbally come out the right way.
Good luck, rooting for you. YOU GOT THIS!