In the last couple of articles, we have been concentrating on our mental health and how exercise can help you maintain it. We have explored how it can help you with stress management and anxiety and how it can be used effectively to tackle mild depression. We also looked into how it can boost your cognitive performance and help you with your ability to learn, memorise and analyse.
In this post, we are going to talk about another important aspect of mental health, which is self-esteem.
What is self-esteem?
In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth. In other words, how much you appreciate and like yourself. It can also be seen as a personality trait when it is stable and enduring.
Signs of low self-esteem:
- sensitivity to criticism
- social withdrawal
- excessive preoccupation with personal problems
- physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and headaches.
Why is healthy self-esteem so important?
Self-esteem is important as it heavily influences people’s decisions and choices: it serves as a motivational force in a way that makes it more or less likely that people will face up to the challenge or take up action towards growth.
Also, the way you think about yourself impacts the opinion that others have about you. We all know how hard it is to like someone who does not like themselves, who always speaks badly of themselves, who never is happy with their achievements and who does not believe in their skills.
Research shows that people with unhealthy self-esteem are more prone to experience depression, anxiety and stress.
For more in-depth research-based information go to Science Daily and learn how poor self-esteem makes us vulnerable to various mental health conditions.
How to elevate self-esteem?
There are many factors that affect self-esteem like our childhood experiences, people that you surround yourself with and even media, the television shows we watch, magazines we read or Instagram influencers profiles we follow.
However, that does not mean that our self-image is totally determined by external factors as there are many things we can and should do in order to improve the way we think about ourselves.
One of the great ways to dramatically change the way we see and think of ourselves for the better is (yes, you guessed it!) exercise. Regular exercise does not take long to bring about positive changes, not only in your body but also your mind.
For more tips on how to raise low self-esteem, go to the NHS website.
How does it work?
There are a few ways that exercise improves your self-evaluation.
- immediately after you work out, it puts you in a good mood. Some chemical changes happen in your body: serotonin levels rise and endorphins ( also known as a feel-good hormone) flush your brain. We suddenly see ourselves and the whole world around us in bright colours
- in the long term, we start to notice how regular fitness regime changes our body, how it tones the muscles and helps us burn fat: we lose weight, feel energised and are more able to face the challenges of everyday life. Moreover, we are starting to like what we see in the mirror as our body looks healthier and stronger
It is not only about appearance. Another important effect of exercise is a feeling of accomplishment that you get after you start to hit your fitness goals and that you are getting fitter and fitter. It is an empowering feeling that significantly elevates your self-esteem and makes you more in control of yourself and your life and as a consequence more likely to set ambitious goals and stay motivated on the road to achieving them in all other areas of life.