Self esteem is an important part of our emotional health which, just like our physical health, needs to be taken care of and kept in good shape. Both can take a knocking from long periods of stress and cause us to feel low, depressed, lacking in energy and confidence. The physical and emotional aspects of our health are closely related and stress in one area can have serious repercussions in the other – so it is important to take care of both. We all know that when we look good we feel good – and vice versa! So how can we sustain that feel good factor for our self esteem?

A first step might be to make a kind of emotional audit. How do you feel about yourself today on a scale of nought to ten where nought equals hopeless, downhearted and depressed and ten is on top of the world? Have you felt like this for several days or weeks or is it just a passing moment in a bad good or bad day?

If you find yourself constantly near the lower end of the scale or swinging rapidly from low to high and back again you may need professional help, so go and talk with your GP. However, most of us function most of the time somewhere around the middle of this scale with just the occasional, moderate swing up or down and are able to do a great deal to help ourselves in nurturing and improving our self esteem. Often all we need is a reminder of this fact, a little friendly reassurance and perhaps a few helpful tips.

Take time out to pamper yourself a little and remind yourself you are worth it. Stick to simple things at first, especially if you are inclined to feel guilty afterwards about your self indulgence. Try a long, hot bubble bath, that more expensive body lotion or, if finances allow, a manicure or massage. Maybe just take time out for yourself to do whatever you fancy. Give yourself a food treat (always a comfort), but again be careful of that guilt factor and stay away from chocolate and cream cakes if you are trying to lose weight. Some favourite out of season fruit or going out for a healthy meal may be a better option. That old adage “a little of what you fancy does you good” holds more than a grain of truth and even if you feel that what you “fancy” is bad for you, you can still go for it so long as you just stick to the “little”.

The negative feelings we have about ourselves are most greatly influenced by the people around us when our self esteem is already low. We can best protect ourselves from unkind, thoughtless actions or remarks by feeling better about ourselves. However, as so often where our emotions are concerned, it’s all too easy to get on that downward spiral and forget there is also an upward one (the angelic spiral rather than the vicious circle!).

If you are on the receiving end of a negative actions or remarks try and put them in perspective. Check out if you are only hearing the negatives and missing out on the positives that come your way. Do you value the opinion of the other person? If not try and shrug off their criticism as of no real importance. If you do value their opinion ask yourself if they are perhaps having a bad day, didn’t actually mean it or did mean it and need to be challenged (hard if your self esteem is low). If you really respect the other person and they respect you, these situations can be great sources of personal growth when you can find the courage to face them. If all this seems too much for you, you may need to seek support and reassurance from a close friend or loved one and talk to them about your hurt or anger. Remember it’s OK to express these feelings and admit to your vulnerability. This may also be a time when you need to remind yourself of your good qualities (go back to the mirror exercises in my previous Selfhelper self esteem article), be kind to yourself and go in for a bit of pampering.

As with so much in life it’s a matter of keeping things in balance. No one likes the self important, boastful person who constantly proclaims their virtues and achievements and thinks their opinion is the only one which matters (actually they are most probably covering a deep lack of self esteem). Neither is the constantly self denigrating, always agreeing person popular. So try and find yourself a secure position somewhere between the two! Value and use your talents and good points and be appropriately proud of them. Hold on to them in the face of criticism and negativity from others but also be prepared to look at yourself honestly when challenged. Listen to both your own inner voice and what you hear from others and take the best from either. Make sure you are hearing the positive affirmations and responding to them and not just focussing on the negatives around you.

Take the first steps on that angelic spiral and as you nurture and maintain that growing and well balanced self esteem you will find that you are increasingly valued by yourself and others. But never forget one important point – you don’t have to be perfect to feel good about yourself. Good enough is good enough for us all!

Author's Bio: 

Jeanne is a regular contributor for and has her own column as ‘Agony Aunt’. Jeanne is an experienced teacher, personal and relationship counsellor, polarity therapist and healer.

Through these four mediums and her wisdom, insight and life experience Jeanne has developed a unique style of healing, guidance and personal empowerment. She has counselled for Relate, the prison service and in a GP surgery. She has worked successfully with a wide range of people and problems and had her own counselling and polarity therapy practice in North Birmingham. She now lives in America, Florida but continues to write for SelfHelper.