With the increasing emphasis on mental health in our world right now, most people recognize that self-esteem is important for one’s well-being.
In a fast-paced world that places heavy emphasis on hustle culture and constantly meeting standards close to perfection, it can be difficult to constantly have a positive self-image. Many students today struggle with low self-esteem, which can hinder their mental health and success.
Low self-esteem often makes students feel inadequate, undeserving, or untalented. While there is no easy or quick fix when it comes to self-esteem, there are definitely ways students can begin to build up their self-confidence and self-esteem over time.
Easy Tips for Boosting Self-Esteem
- Identify your strengths.
This common piece of advice is often easier said than done. After all, a lack of self-esteem can lead anyone to convince themselves that they’re not good at much of anything.
Still, it can be very beneficial to challenge yourself and take some time to self-reflect on things that come easily to you or accomplishments. Do you tend to get good grades? Are you a dedicated athlete, instrument-player, or a leader in your community? Do you get along well with others or have good friends? Even something seemingly insignificant to others can be something you take pride in.
Once you have identified these strengths, find ways to engage them more often and gain achievements that accentuate them. For example, if you’re good at drawing, try out your hand at different projects. If you’re good at being a great listener, encourage others in your life to turn to you in times of need.
Honing your strengths and seeking out opportunities that let you exercise your strengths will eventually help you feel more emboldened and confident in your abilities.
- Be realistic with your expectations.
You might be inclined to use radical affirmations such as “I’m going to be the biggest success, and nothing can stop me!” because they feel positive and uplifting.
However, they may be too deviant from your current belief system. Telling yourself things you don’t believe deep down doesn’t do much good in terms of changing the way you view yourself. In fact, it might make you feel even worse.
Instead, setting small achievable goals and working on your self-esteem incrementally can actually be the healthiest option. Knowing you’re doing your best and encouraging yourself in realistic, tangible ways is a much more approachable way to go about things.
This mentality can help create steady growth and allow you to see your improvement day by day. Allow yourself some breathing room for setbacks and difficult days. Celebrate the little things, even if it’s as simple as waking up on time.
- Be kind to yourself.
A lot of us face no difficulty in being kind and forgiving to others, but when it comes to our own selves, the story is often different.
If you would uplift a friend if they were talking badly about themselves and putting themselves down, then treat yourself the same way.
Give yourself some leeway whenever you face a setback or a tough day and try to challenge the negative thoughts that may arise with kinder affirmations.
- Surround yourself with supportive people
At times, the people around us contribute to our own low self-esteem much more than we realize. If a friend nitpicks everything you do or tends to use statements that are casually critical, for instance, it can be a major red flag.
Try to seek out people who don’t trigger negative thinking, and make you feel loved and cherished instead.
- Don’t compare yourself to others
It can be hard not to compare yourself to others in an academic environment, especially due to the way the modern school system is designed.
Not getting a certain grade, or a certain number of points, while someone else does, can feel disheartening.
However, everyone is different, and someone else’s achievement does not discredit your own. There will always be someone “better,” and comparing yourself to others may lead you to focus too much on things other than yourself and what your capabilities are.
Everyone’s struggles are different, which makes everyone’s successes different. Even those we admire, or envy have insecurities and obstacles to overcome.
Knowing When to Seek Help
Everyone struggles with self-esteem concerns, especially young people. But if a lack of self-esteem begins to translate into mental health disorders or other related challenges, it may be time to seek out the assistance of a professional.
Low self-esteem can be a part of various mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and more. Of course, not everyone with low self-esteem experiences these disorders, but the two can certainly influence each other or be intertwined.
If your self-esteem debilitates you or causes significant distress – avoiding activities, being afraid to speak to or connect with others, feelings of dread or worthlessness, etc. – visiting a mental health professional like a therapist may be a good choice.
Mental health care can help you identify the root of your self-esteem worries and develop specific skills to make things better. When low self-esteem goes from a minor concern to one that takes over your life, there’s absolutely no shame in receiving the care you deserve.
Working your way towards higher self-esteem is not always easy, but if you take the process one step at a time, you may find yourself feeling more fulfilled and happier with who you are.
The most important takeaway is that kindness towards oneself and realizing that everyone has their own struggles and strengths is important for a healthy mindset. Making the effort to self-reflect and treat yourself well can go a long way.