How a stressful situation can affect your self-esteem…
What is self-esteem? People will often confuse self-esteem with confidence, but in actual fact someone could come across as very confident, but still have very low self-esteem. Self-esteem goes much deeper than simply being confident.
We can feel like our self esteem is affected, being ‘lower’ at times of stress or big life changing events; anything from a loved one dying unexpectedly, getting divorced to giving birth to your first child maybe or even when your child moves out of home eventually.
The dictionary definition of self-esteem is…
“Confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect” (Oxford Dictionary)
So what does this mean? We can often change how we feel about ourselves according to what is going on in our lives at the time. When our self-esteem starts to suffer we can feel overwhelmed, anxious, low, scared, and inadequate, amongst many other things. Richard Erskine, a Psychotherapist, talks about self-esteem relating to four areas or domains; thinking, feeling, behaviour and physiological.
The key is to recognise and acknowledge all four areas of the ‘self’ as they are all part of what makes you, you. We all think, feel, behave in certain ways and we all have functioning bodies, hence all four of these areas are a factor, and have a bearing on our self-esteem. If you feel your self-esteem is suffering it will be one of these areas that may need acknowledging and adjusting in a stressful situation. For example if you are experiencing a stressful time in your life:
Thinking – Maybe you are overthinking lots of things? Maybe you are the opposite and just feel like you cant think!
Feeling – Maybe your feelings are so overwhelming that you feel unable to regulate your emotions? Maybe you are bottling lots of feelings up and can’t feel much?
Behaviour – Maybe you are withdrawing and isolating yourself from people? Maybe you are around people but picking arguments with people?
Physiological – This could be comfort eating, using food or other things to make your body feel sluggish or slow? You may have palpitations or other signs of stress that show on your body that you are ignoring?
The key is to aim for a healthy balance in all four areas, especially under times of stress. It is these times when we tend to be on autopilot and revert to what we do best or most naturally which is not always the most beneficial way to be.
For example, if you are more of a thinker naturally, then under stress you may automatically handle a situation by over thinking things, so that thoughts become irrational. If this is you, then it is important to make sure you make way for feelings and taking care of yourself physiologically, as well as taking notice of your behavior, and then try to redress the balance. Here are a few things you can do in times of stress to cover all aspects of your ‘self’ and build your self-esteem back up.
Relaxation, write lists, exercise, eat well, reduce caffeine intake, talk to friends and family and consider all the different parts of yourself; thinking, feeling, behavior and physiologically.
It is impossible to be stressed and relaxed at the same time so rather than trying not to be stressed, focus on being more relaxed instead…
"Please note that this blog post was provided by Healthy Minds and although based on real people, different names have been used, where requested, by those sharing their stories."