In Australia we are experiencing tricky times! With the high cost of living, a rental crisis and unpredictable interest rates, it’s not surprising that we are experiencing a rise in anxiety levels and depression nationwide.
For many their mental health and well-being is suffering more now than ever and low self-esteem really can reduce the quality of your life in so many different ways.
You may develop unhealthy habits, such as; overeating, smoking or drinking too much alcohol, and you may start to feel distant from friends and family which can also negatively impact your relationship with your kids or your partner.
Healthy Mummy psychologist Shara Smith says despite everything going on in the world right now, it’s important we take the time for self-love, as not only will it help you feel better inside, but it will also help you feel mentally stronger which will lead a healthier lifestyle overall.
“While easily disregarded, self-love is the foundation of your physical, psychological and spiritual growth,” she explains. “When you practise self-love, you are making a choice about how you are going to treat yourself. You choose to take care of your body and take actions that benefit you.” So, of course this includes how you nourish your body and exercise.
Studies show repairing the damage done to your self-worth by engaging in actions that promote self-love, can really shift how you feel about yourself.
Adulting and parenting can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed, guilty and stretched. When we are feeling frazzled, our internal voice may also be extremely loud and critical, and this can cause our self-esteem to plummet, often leading to making poorer choices.
Try to remember that you are not your thoughts.
Observe them but be aware that no matter how bad they make you feel or how long you’ve had them, you can make them temporary and have the ability to change them! “While we all have that inner voice feeding back opinions on choices made, sometimes it can become extremely critical, eroding self-esteem and eventually our belief in our abilities,” says Shara.“This can be the hardest part as it involves believing you are worth investing in your mental and physical health.
As part of the healing what you may need to do here involves self-love, speaking to a professional and behaviour modification.
Tips to help you improve your self-worth
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
If you believe that you can lead a healthier lifestyle, then you are much more likely to actually reach your goal and on the flip side, if you think that you’re going to fail, then you’re more likely to quit.
You can train your brain to believe in yourself by telling yourself every day that you can do it. “Self-sabotaging is a complex reaction and can take over your behaviour, but if you find yourself self-sabotaging, identify your triggers.”
Ask yourself; what happens right before I sabotage my healthy choices? Once you identify that trigger, try to minimise your exposure to it and be conscious of the fact that it does exist.
SET SMALL ACHIEVABLE GOALS
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to set ourselves unachievable goals. It’s all well and good to aspire to lose a large amount of weight, but it’s just as important to have a road map of small bit-sized goals to reach along the way.
“Instead of imaging yourself a few dress sizes smaller, focus on behaviours you with to change instead, which can easily be done with or without the demands of parenthood”
Tips: cut out soft drinks, choose fruit for a snack, serve yourself a smaller portion and cut out the wine every night.
LET THINGS GO
Try not to hold onto things! You don’t need to have a perfect household and always cook a perfect meal and it’s inevitable that you wont be perfect all the time BUT don’t berate yourself (as it’s impossible to be perfect all the time!)..
Studies have shown that perfectionists are at a higher risk of several illnesses, both physical and mental.
Always remember, that nothing is perfect and people most certainly are not perfect, so if you can, try to let some things go. If the house isn’t spotless for one day or you miss a workout, it’s okay.
Remember that tomorrow is another day, so you get to restart and reset so don’t beat yourself up about the small things.
DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF EVERY WEEK
It’s not easy to find the time to do things for yourself when you have kids who need your constant attention, but it is important that you find time for yourself.
“If you are feeling downtrodden and overwhelmed, ignore the washing and the dishes, get your kids and get out of the house or better still take some time for yourself with a friend or a little self care” a simple break, will help you reset and recharge.
Maybe try napping when your children nap or letting them watch their favourite cartoon while you have a rest can make all the difference (win for the kids and a win for mum)!
It’s important to keep your energy and confidence levels up if you want to make big changes to your lifestyle as we may falter in our plans if we feel low or flat.
Exercise is a great way to combat fatigue and boost your mood and this in turn will hopefully boost your confidence as well. As I’m sure you have seen, the research out there shows that those who exercise regularly tend to have higher self-esteem levels than those who don’t – that’s – the endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body.
GIVE YOURSELF A COMPLIMENT
You should aim to look at yourself in the mirror at least once a day and give yourself a compliment. “Don’t compare yourself as an absolute self-esteem and motivation killer is the comparison you constantly make between yourself and others in the media and online ”adds Shara.
Positive personal motivation generally comes from relatable people who are authentic and positive. Surround yourself with people who energise you and make you feel that ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’.
REFLECT ON HOW AMAZING YOUR BODY IS
Your body is amazing. Without it you can’t function, so love it and treat it with the respect it deserves. Revelling in all the amazing things your body has done for you is a great way to learn to love yourself.“Having gratitude is one of the most important aspects of happiness as it makes us focus on what we have rather than what we don’t. Try to focus on what you’re grateful for,” says Shara
We are so fortunate in Australia to have many options for accessible support if you are feeling unhappy, lonely or disillusioned and remember, how you are feeling is always important!
Please reach out immediately if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, don’t go at it alone. Please talk to a professional, family or friends or call Lifeline (13 11 14), or call 000.
You can also visit Beyond Blue, beyonblue.org.au, call Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) on 1300726306 to speak to someone and their kind, compassionate and well trained operators will be happy to assist you.
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