If you are someone that struggles with self-esteem, if you feel like you have no value, if you feel like you have more bad days than good, or you struggle with feeling ok most of the time…you are not alone!!! There are so many people that struggle with how they feel about themselves – and that is exactly what our self-esteem is. Self-esteem is defined as how we feel about ourselves. It is so common now to meet someone or have a conversation with someone that in the midst of discussion you hear that they have depression or that they are struggling with their mood almost evert single day. 

As someone who has struggled with depression a couple of times through their life – I know exactly how it feels. The first time and probably the longest period was throughout high school.  Heck it probably started earlier than that…maybe mid primary school around year 4. I was probably just not a happy kid in my primary school years but for most of high school, from the beginning of year 8 until I got out of there at the end of year 12 I struggled to get out of bed every single morning. 

Nothing helped with how I felt, and the negative feelings seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. 

Unfortunately there is a stigma attached to having ‘depression’ or a ‘low self-esteem’ and as a result many of us deny that this is the case when we are in that exact position. I know I did. I didn’t even really know what depression was as a teenager but if I did – I know I would have said there is no way I have it!! This is a BIG part of the issue. Whatever issue we face at any age – the very first step to dealing with it in a healthy way is to acknowledge that we actually have the issue. From there we will be able to make the necessary changes, or at least begin to. If we never get to the point where we are honest enough with ourselves – we will never be able to change enough to get healthy in relation to how we feel. 

That first step is almost the most important – we all need to stop pretending that we are ok and admit when we are struggling. NO ONE has it all together. If we can all stop pretending that we are all good – and recognise that we need to change how we feel – the world would be such a healthier place. This is the first step but there are many steps beyond that. Namely these 5:

1) Change your lifestyle

The most effective way to change how we feel is to change the food we eat. Food can either be a form of medicine or the slowest form of poison that we encounter. Eating nutrient dense carbs and healthy proteins and fats actually changes how we feel faster and more effectively than ANYTHING else we can do. Beyond that the only other 2 factors I will mention are exercise and sleep. We need to be getting exercise every single day – 10-15mins of exercise is enough. And 8-10 hours of sleep a night.  

2) Speak to someone

There seems to be a stigma around seeing a counsellor or a psychologist – and always has been. My suggestion is that EVERYONE needs to see a professional at some point because we all have issues – and if everyone did it then it wouldn’t be weird!! We all have hurts and pain (mainly from our parents) and need to address that rather than getting caught up in coping mechanisms or addictions.

3) Get rid of ANTs

ANTs stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts. We have so many negative thoughts crawling around in our heads that cause us damage and pain. We need to choose to get rid of these ANTs as they not only cause us pain but even change how we interact with people, change how we hear what people are saying or how we perceive situations we face.

4) Choose friends wisely

Take a close look at the friends that you have around you. Those close friends will strongly determine the kind of person that you will become. Don’t hang around people that are super negative or that put you down all the time as it will impact how you feel about yourself. When you hear something about yourself often enough you will begin to believe it. Don’t place yourself in situations that you hear too much negative talk – especially about yourself.

5) Do good for others

Another effective way to change how you feel about yourself is to do good for others. Research shows that when you reach beyond yourself and act selflessly 2 things happen – you feel better about yourself and you are more accepted by your peers. So look for opportunities where you can help someone out or just commit a random act of kindness. These are things I have put in place over the last 15 years of my life and I believe I have a healthier self-esteem now than ever before. I am nowhere near perfect and never will be – but I will continue to work on it because I recognise how important it is to have a healthy self-esteem.

For more info on self-esteem you can visit the Armed For Life website at www.armedforlife.com.au and take the Self Esteem Questionnaire in the resources menu, or contact me at adam@armedforlife.com.au about the 8 week Overhaul Program I have put together that works on all of the 5 points that we have spoken about in the article.

Do yourself a favour, choose to be honest about where your self-esteem is at and start making the changes today to feel good about yourself.