Why is Self-Esteem Important for Mental Health in 2023?

Why is Self-Esteem Important for Mental Health in 2023?

It is impossible to overstate the importance of self-esteem and mental health in achieving personal goals and strengthening the relationship you have with yourself and others. This year, commit to developing your self-esteem and be amazed at the benefits it will have on nearly every aspect of your life.

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
– Henry David Thoreau, writer, philosopher, naturalist

As the new year begins, many people are considering ways in which they can better their lives. Finding a new job, restarting a regular exercise routine, socialising more, drinking less—there are so many things to think about on our path to self-improvement. However, it is important to make sure that any change that happens is building upon a solid foundation, and this is where the need to examine self-esteem and mental health is so critical.

How we regard ourselves—what we value, respect and love about who we are—impacts every part of our relationship with ourselves and others, as well as our general outlook. While your self-esteem, or lack thereof, doesn’t determine if you will have a mental health disorder, having low self-esteem can put you at greater risk of developing conditions like depression and anxiety that can lead to other unhealthy coping mechanisms and generally lower your quality of life.

Prioritising self-esteem and mental health, and cultivating the healthy ways in which you view yourself, can have profoundly positive impacts on your life.

What Does Self-Esteem Mean?

Self-esteem is more than just feeling good about yourself, and is not related to ranking yourself favorably in comparison to others. Self-esteem refers to your overall and long-term perception of your personal abilities, qualities, and characteristics. People with strong self-esteem tend to have positive but realistic views about themselves, believe that they have self-worth even when they are challenged, and strive towards personal growth and improvement.

Do I have low self-esteem?

You may have a general sense of what your self-esteem levels are at, but are unsure if some of your tendencies suggest you may not be truly valuing yourself. For example, you might wonder something like, “I’m a people pleaser—do people pleasers have low self-esteem?”

The answer is that people pleasers often need external validation to compensate for their own lack of self-worth or value, which indicates a low sense of self-esteem. Other indicators of low self-esteem include things like:

  • Experiencing self-doubt over most decisions
  • Struggle with setting boundaries
  • Negative self-talk
  • Challenges in relationships with others
  • Comparing yourself unfavorably to other people
  • Assuming that others don’t like or respect you
  • Downplaying your positive qualities or accomplishments to others

Common causes of low self-esteem

There are many factors that can cause low self-esteem. People who have had:

  • Traumatic or abusive childhoods 
  • Challenges in academic settings, such as difficulty with academic performance or critical teachers
  • Chronic physical or mental health conditions
  • Long-term stressor such as the breakdown of a relationship or financial difficulties

How Does Self-Esteem Affect Mental Health?

The American Psychological Association links strong self-esteem to good mental health due to its impacts on a person’s ability to cope with adversity and put things in perspective. People with high self-esteem tend to deal with stress and challenge constructively, focusing on the solution rather than the problem and actively looking for ways to soothe themselves and bounce back when challenges arise.

Conversely, low self-esteem can make it more difficult to move past challenges or criticism, and more likely for a person to take something personally. This can make someone more easily swept up in negative emotions that are destructive rather than constructive, and have a harder time regulating stress. This is part of why low self-esteem has been linked to a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, substance use, and eating disorders.

What are 6 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem and Mental Health in 2023?

Some of us experience challenges with our self-esteem from time to time, while others will have more prolonged struggles due to the presence of contributing factors. Most people can benefit from intentional work to cultivate self-esteem and mental health, which lays a strong foundation for personal growth and a positive outlook. Here are a few ways you can improve your self-esteem and mental health in 2023:

  1. Encourage positive self-talk – Our inner narrative has a profound impact on how we see ourselves and react to what is happening around us. Being aware of self-talk and consciously correcting negative or critical patterns is beneficial to self-esteem and mental health.

  2. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others – Many times people will find themselves to have a great deal of generosity when dealing with the mistakes or shortcomings of others, but fail to extend this same grace to themselves. Treating yourself as you would treat someone you love can provide a definitive boost to your self-esteem.

  3. Have fun – Loving yourself means valuing joy in your life. Prioritising time during the week to do things that make you truly happy not only improves your mood, but allows you to nurture all parts of yourself, a critical element of good self-esteem.

  4. Focus on growth – Challenging yourself to try new things can build confidence, develop resilience, and open new opportunities. Keeping a balanced perspective on your progress, and remembering that along the way there will be mistakes and setbacks that are a normal and healthy part of any growth process, is key to developing self-esteem.

  5. Accept and appreciate compliments – It is common for people struggling with self-esteem to deflect or ignore compliments. Try to take these in, and next time simply say, “thank you.” Cultivate recognition for the way you’re appreciated and admired by others, and remember that you are worth the praise!

  6. Try therapy – A therapist can help you get a better sense of your self-esteem, and what aspects of it could be strengthened or developed. A therapist can help you change negative patterns of thought, challenge beliefs that may be lowering your self-esteem, explore and analyse childhood events that have shaped your self-esteem, and identify and build healthy relationships.

Building Self-Esteem and Mental Health at The Dawn

Building Self-Esteem and Mental Health at The Dawn Rehab Thailand

The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a unique mental health retreat in Thailand located in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The Dawn was created to foster an environment of personal growth and healing for people who want to change their lives for the better, and overcome addiction or mental health issues.

Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), and nationally licenced by the Thai Ministry of Health, The Dawn offers tailor made treatment plans that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method that combines modern psychotherapy and wellness with proven results.

Retreat for Mental Health in Thailand

Stress, worry, and lack of downtime are known triggers of most mental health conditions. Located on the outskirts of the internationally-known tourist destination Chiang Mai, The Dawn’s tranquil riverfront location is surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages. Arriving at The Dawn immediately transports you into an oasis of calm, completely removing you from all your stressors so that you can focus on your needs and personal growth.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to reconnect with yourself, call The Dawn today and learn more about our unique programming.

About the Author

John A. Smith is a Senior Psychotherapist at The Dawn and an internationally accredited Addiction Treatment Professional (ISSUP), Certified Life and NLP Coach. He is highly experienced in working with young adults and utilises a range of evidence-based therapies, including SMART Recovery, to help his clients achieve their goals.