IMage representing staying positive

Q & A: How to support your self-esteem

“I am 29 and have suffered from low self-esteem for a long time, which always rears its ugly head at this time of year, especially with Valentine’s Day looming. I’m also constantly worried about what people think of me. I try to eat healthily but am aware that too many take-aways may be creeping in as they make me feel better. What can I do in order to feel better about myself?”

Suzie Sawyer, Clinical Nutritionist, answers:

I think your question about self-esteem will resonate with many people.  Importantly, our nutritional status is directly related to mental wellbeing. Indeed, we need to look at our nutrition as the first port of call because the gut microbiome, the internal ‘garden’ that needs daily nurturing, has a direct impact on mental wellbeing.

Gut health

Close up of a woman's stomach to represent gut health

As part of its many functions, the gut microbiome helps produce serotonin, our ‘happy hormone’, essential for balanced mood as well as positivity. The best way of nourishing the friendly gut bacteria is to eat a colourful diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, every day.  It’s ok to include juices too; you’ll still be getting the many wonderful benefits of all these foods.

The impact of stimulants

A jug of coffee surrounded by coffee beans

Mood can also be directly affected by stimulant intake.  For example, caffeine provides an immediate ‘high’ but then a low which can have a direct impact on anxiety levels.  Additionally, alcohol is a known depressant, again creating a high, but the next day, huge lows for many people.  I encourage you to look closely and honestly at your caffeine, alcohol, and overall sugar intake.

Try a vitamin D supplement

Vitamin D and a sunshine written into the sand on beach

It’s no surprise that we can feel sad at this time of year when vitamin D levels in the body are at their lowest.  Vitamin D, normally made on the skin in the presence of sunshine, is essential for good mood and wellbeing.  Make sure you’re taking a supplement of at least 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily.

Once you know you are in control of your diet by following these tips, it’s amazing how powerful this feeling can be. You will be able to give yourself a massive pat on the back for taking some steps towards feeling happier, and self-esteem levels will also improve.  Plus, you’ll feel generally healthier and more energised which will hopefully help to put a smile on your face.

Worrying about what others think

Close up of mobile phone

In terms of worrying about what others think about you, most people feel the same!  It’s just that some hide it better than others.  Be aware of the negative impact that social media can have on your self-esteem. It can quickly encourage feelings of inadequacy because everyone appears so beautiful, happy, and fulfilled.  Of course, this is not true at all and does not reflect real life.  You may need to go cold turkey on social media if you think it could be affecting your feelings in a negative way.

Daily Affirmations

Woman looking at her reflection in a mirror

Lastly, try saying daily affirmations to the mirror. Examples may include I am true to myself; I eat well and take care of myself; I believe in myself; I am in charge of how I feel; Every day is a fresh start. This may seem alien initially but with practice they’re incredibly effective. You could also write down everything that’s positive about yourself and your life, as well as things that you are grateful for. Repeating this every day will help to support a more positive frame of mind.

Changing your mindset takes a combination of factors, but it can be achieved. Keep going and remember that you are loved, you are important, and that small steps can lead to big changes.

Add comment