Whether you are self-confident or shy, we can all do with a boost to our self-esteem. Self-esteem is the attitude we project about ourselves and our worth and this, in turn, affects how we behave…

Dove’s self-esteem research shows that when women don’t feel good about how they look, they don’t take part in important life activities and even put their health at risk! This has nothing to do with physical appearance and is more about the way we think and feel about our looks. The good news is that you can change your thoughts.

We’ve partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to bring you an actionable list of steps you can take that will help improve your self-esteem.

1. Stop criticising yourself when you look in the mirror

How many times do you look into a mirror in a day? Chances are it’s a lot. And when you realise that most people say negative things about themselves when they do, the mirror is a good place to start if you want to improve your self-image.

Start by making the decision to stop being mean to yourself when you look into a mirror. You may find it difficult to say something nice to yourself, so start by remaining neutral and just smiling. Once you feel comfortable with that, start complimenting yourself on parts of your body you like. After a while, you’ll find more things that you like about yourself.

At first, it will be hard, but with practice, it will become easier.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others on social media

Social media platforms mean that we’re more connected than ever, but this constant connectivity also has a downside. Social media allows you to create an online persona and control it in a way that wouldn’t be possible in real life. This makes us feel inadequate because we start to believe that other people are happier and more successful than we are.

But remember, you’re comparing your realistic, regular self to an online persona that has been carefully crafted using filters, Photoshop and perfectly practised poses. And this goes for models, actresses and even your friends.

We can’t just switch off our desire to compare ourselves, so it’s important to limit the time we spend on social media. Infinite scroll is designed to keep you on the platform without even realising it, so set boundaries and stick to them. When you wake up, resist the urge to check social media and rather start the day with a cup of coffee or tea and being thankful for what you have.

3.  Stop giving compliments that only focus on appearance

While you may think “You look like you’ve lost weight” is the type of compliment anyone would appreciate, it connects our feelings of self-worth to how we look.

Instead, try and give compliments about things you think are important that don’t only involve looks. For example, if someone does something kind, let them know. You could also compliment friends on their strengths, passions and personalities. Be sure to acknowledge achievements and remember that compliments should make people feel good.

4. Stop viewing exercise as punishment

We often take our bodies for granted. But no matter how they look, they allow us to hug our children, eat delicious food and have fun with our friends. Exercise keeps us healthy so we can keep enjoying our lives. Whether you want washboard abs, want to run your first 5km or just need to wind down after a long day at work, any form of exercise is beneficial. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get moving and aim to do so at least three times a week.

Use exercise as a time to focus on taking care of yourself rather than something you need to do to look better. Even a brisk walk outside can do wonders for your mood.

5. Stop being too busy to schedule downtime for yourself

Being busy has become a bragging right and working long hours and sleeping less has become glorified.  But being busy all the time shouldn’t be confused with productivity. Once you slow down, you may actually find that you’re more productive. Self-care is extremely important and Dove’s Global Beauty and Confidence Report states that seven in 10 women say that taking time for themselves helps them feel more confident.

Download a meditation app, read a book, take a long bath, watch a TEDTalk, take up a new hobby or learn a new language. Find something that you enjoy and do more of that. To ensure that you follow through, schedule this time in your calendar and honour this commitment to yourself.

Visit the Dove Self-Esteem Project for more helpful tips on how to improve your self-esteem, and the self-esteem of young people around you. Dove’s research shows that spending just 30 minutes engaging with the resources on the website will empower you to boost the self-esteem of a young person you love – and improve your own body image, too.

For more information, click here

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