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Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself and your abilities. Your self-esteem can change over time and in different situations, for example, you may feel better about your sporting abilities than you do about your study achievements.

People with healthy self-esteem like themselves and value their achievements, and while everyone lacks confidence occasionally, people with low self-esteem feel unhappy or unsatisfied with themselves most of the time.

Signs of low self-esteem include:

  • Saying negative things and being critical of yourself.
  • Focusing on negatives and ignoring your achievements.
  • Thinking other people are better than.
  • Not accepting compliments.
  • Feeling sad, depressed, anxious, ashamed or angry.

If you’re experiencing low self-esteem, it’s important to remember that you are not alone, many people experience low self-esteem.

What to do

It’s not always clear why we experience low self-esteem, but there are still steps you can take to improve our self-esteem. Ways you can maintain or improve your self-esteem include:

  • Set realistic goals for yourself, and then check on your progress regularly.
  • Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they might seem.
  • Focus on the things you can control.
  • Avoid trying to do things perfectly – perfection is not possible.
  • Speak with someone you trust about how you’re feeling.
  • Spend time with supportive friends who respect you for who you are.
  • Improve your mood by moving your body, you might like to dance, walk, run, ride your bike, swim, do yoga, or something else. Regular exercise can help your body release hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which are also known as ‘happiness hormones’.
  • Be kind to yourself and challenge any negative thoughts you may have about yourself.
  • The DeakinWELLBEING app can help you find balance and develop healthy habits, which may help you to set and achieve realistic goals.

Getting support

If your self-esteem starts interfering with your day-to-day life, or if you’d like to speak to a health professional about your experiences, you can make an appointment with Deakin's Counselling service.

More help and advice

ReachOut provide information on developing and maintaining self-esteem.

Our podcast on managing social anxiety outlines some practical strategies for coping with spiralling negative thoughts.

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