How to boost your lockdown self-esteem
Now that lockdowns have become a more significant feature in our life, conversations about the long-term effects to our health and wellbeing are starting to emerge. Moving past the more popular meme-centred conversations around the increase to our waistlines, the topic of our self-esteem is a key one to address, says Heidi Hauer.
So, what is self-esteem and why is it important?
In its simplest form, self-esteem is our ability to feel good about ourselves. The specific things that make us feel good will be different for each of us, but all can be grouped within some universal themes.
These include things such as how we feel about our body, whether our unique skills are being nurtured and recognised, to which degree we enjoy the work that we do, and the amount we feel seen, heard and supported within our close relationships. These, among others, are the things that significantly influence the way we feel about ourselves, the choices that we make, and the level of fulfilment we are able to get within our lives.
"This is the work of self-esteem: learning to know, love and honour all that makes you, you"
Despite COVID restrictions, many of us are feeling the call this spring to get back into the driver’s seat of our life and bring back happiness. But as we reflect over the forgotten goals of previous lockdowns or feel ourselves attempting to pump up the pressure to use our remaining time to the max, I encourage you to go deeper than the surface level "improvements" and consider how you can build (or re-build) the core foundations within your life that will help you feel amazing.
This is the work of self-esteem: learning to know, love and honour all that makes you, you. Not sure where to start? Here’s a simple activity.
Author Heidi Hauer
Meet the real you
In all of our efforts to be "healthier", "better" and "more successful", many of us get caught in the trap of self-improvement without ever really understanding the "self" we are trying to cultivate.
When we make big goals that we don’t really want, we set ourselves up to fail. When we try to mould ourselves into relationships that aren’t really compatible, we will eventually feel like we don’t belong. And when we prioritise things in our life that don’t inspire or reflect who we are, our self-esteem gets stunted. Why? Because we are being rewarded and recognised for achievements or actions that aren’t authentic to us.
Getting to grips with who you are, what you want and why is a powerful way to set the container for thriving self-esteem. The following exercise is from my book The Queendom Within, a 28-day guide for redesigning your life to reflect the real you.
Grab a pen and paper or open up your notes app, and write down all of the things you want to experience within your life. Try to get out of any judgement over whether or not it’s realistic, possible or silly. Include everything from what fees small to what feels huge, from swimming in a lake, speaking up in work meetings, or making pasta to travelling the world, getting married or leading your own company.
This is not (yet!) an exercise in setting goals, it’s a creative way to get a full picture of the passions, desires and inspirations that you hold within. When you can’t think of anything else, look over the list. What does it say about who you are?
Seek out any themes that strongly appear, for example, a desire for being outdoors, nurturing relationships or sharing ideas within the world. Are there any connections you are starting to see that bring a new sense of clarity to what is most important for you and your life?
Next up is to find what you can do to bring these things to life. Some of them might be easier to check off right away, like reading the books you’ve always meant to or trying out new skills. Others might require a bit of creativity. For example, if your goal is to travel abroad ask yourself why? What are the feelings or the experiences that are calling to you?
Consider how you could bring those feelings into your life right now. Often the answer is closer than you might think. For example, trying out different foods, listening to new music and giving yourself more time to explore your local surroundings can open up your current experiences and welcome in some adventure.
Use this list as a point of clarity and motivation. When you’re feeling disconnected to yourself read back over it and get reacquainted with what you really want. And of course, continue to lean into it! Set yourself small and sustainable goals or activities that will help you tick off an item on the list, or work towards a bigger goal in a conscious way.
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