Posted by on February 1, 2020

Do you have healthy self esteem?

I already have great self esteem because I am confident. That’s what I thought. But I couldn’t be further from the truth. So Here is what I have come to understand as self esteem and how your diet, exercise and sleep can help. In the Self Esteem Workbook by Glenn Schirald, self esteem is defined in this way:

“Self-esteem” is a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself. “realistic” means accurate and honest. “appreciative” implies positive feelings and liking oneself. Some speak of high and low self-esteem, but this makes self-esteem like a numbers game that is competitive and comparative. Its preferable to simply say that people posses self esteem when they have a realistic and appreciative opinion of themselves.

What do you think about yourself? Is it a grandiose view, or do you undermine yourself? How realistic is this view? Appreciate yourself for who you are at a deeper level. Don’t confuse who you are with who you think you should be. Even if who you “should” be is positive.

Look within

When we labeled ourselves inaccurately we end up ruining ourselves. Your diet, exercise and sleep, are things you do to improve yourself internally. Gain self esteem by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. True self esteem always comes from within. Not from having a great job, being successful, having a family. Etc.

Those are external things that may seem to boost your self esteem, but self esteem doesn’t come and go based on how good things are. Are you devastated when things don’t go well? Even worse is the person who doesn’t realize they have no self esteem because things are going well.

Give yourself permission. Have you been told you are selfish for buying that more expensive healthy food, conceited for wanting to stay in shape, lazy for wanting to get some sleep? Despite what you have heard, you are worth it. You have value at a deep level that is who you are and why you exist.

You are worth it
Despite what you have heard, you are worth it.

Gain self esteem by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep

Food can leave us feeling all sorts of ways. I’ll focus on how food helps you gain self esteem when you

  1. Avoid processed foods
  2. Use mood bosting foods

Exercise has a lot of benefits. I’ll focus on how exercise helps you gain self esteem when you

  1. Use exercise to feel positive
  2. Just get moving

And with sleep I’ll focus on how you need to

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Have healthy sleep hygiene

Avoid processed foods

Eat foods that nourish your mind body and soul. Standard diets across the world are not usually healthy, and even professionals have conflicting information. A good place to start is to eat food in its most natural state.

Avoid processed foods. This will be helpful to your body because once food is processed, it passes through your body either too fast or too slow, causing problems for you as your body builds up against it.

If you choose to eat processed foods, take a look at the labels and avoid sugar and modified sugars like caramel and high fructose corn syrup, to start. Sugar may increase your risk for depression, mood disorders, and several chronic health issues.

Sugar to avoid
avoid sugar

Use mood bosting foods

Food can affect your mood. Eat more foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts and flax seeds. These have been shown to increase your serotonin levels. This chemical in the brain makes you feel good. Certain fruits such as cherries, orange, kiwis, pineapples, plantains, plums, tomatoes may also help raise your serotonin.

Also ensure you get enough sun. Some research suggests that vitamin D plays a role in maintaining positive moods. If you don’t get enough sun, a vitamin D supplement may be useful.

A lot of people use food to stuff their feelings, or use comfort foods to cope. This is especially true with the foods high in sugar or fat. It may relieve your stress in the short term but habitual use is bad for your health. So avoid comfort foods and use the healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil.

Use exercise to feel positive

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that generate a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. It binds to the same neuron receptors as this pain medicine but doesn’t lead to addiction or dependence.

I personally love to dance. Its harder for me to think about getting up to exercise. If you are like me you don’t need any encouragement to turn up your favorite song and get moving. Now you have a good excuse to get up and dance even if you are not good at dancing.

I read about a study that showed dancing produced more endorphins than exercising, so it really is a good option when you don’t feel like exercising. Remember that you are improving your mood, so don’t criticize yourself or be self conscious. You can even look into dance therapy.

couple dancing
you are improving your mood, so don’t criticize yourself or be self conscious

Just get moving

Doing exercise is also beneficial because it gets your mind focused on something else. If you are feeling like you have too much on your mind, try exercising: it regulates your body and mind.

There are many ways to exercise. Don’t get stuck on wanting to do things a certain way. I had no motivation to workout until I found a soca music workout on you tube. Find a group at your library, facebook or meetup.com if a gym membership is too expensive: there is not just one way to do things.

Once you get started you will start to feel good about yourself, especially once you reach your ideal health. Its important to feel good in our own skin, but its also important that our blood panel shows we are doing ok. We need to be realistic about our health.

Stay hydrated

Its important that you stay hydrated throughout the day. Water helps with regeneration. Drink 60% of your bodyweight in water. You will find that it if you have enough hours of sleep and wake up feeling exhausted, Its probably because you did not hydrate enough.

Your body doesn’t just regenerate while you sleep, It also absorbs nutrients from your food between the hours of 8 pm and 4 pm when you are most likely to be sleeping. Avoid eating after 8.00 pm and have a water based dinner like soup. You will sleep better if food is out of your stomach before 8.00 pm

water based dinner
Avoid eating after 8.00 pm and have a water based dinner like soup.

Have healthy sleep hygiene

Its important that you get between 6-8 hours of high quality sleep. This means that you have to have a proper mattress, your pillow should be propping your head up the right way, your sheets should be breathable, the temperature of the room should be comfortable and it shouldn’t be too noisy.

If you are having trouble sleeping it could be that you need to examine your sleep hygiene. If there are some things you can’t control like the noise of the room, try an alternative like sleeping with some relaxing noise or playing a sleep meditation.

It might take some time to find what gives you quality deep sleep. You might need to explore what you do before going to bed, and take all the electronic devices like your phone and TV out of you room.

Lack of sleep can make you feel foggy and irritable, impair your problem solving, lead to heart related diseases and diabetes, negatively affect your skin, make you forgetful, and lead to weight gain.

Take a step at a time

Its helpful to start with just one thing. Habits are always hard to change. Try eliminating something for just one day, then keep increasing the days. Be realistic about how long you can manage. For example, you might have your processed foods like bread once a week. It took me about a year to stop certain foods and I am still working on eliminating others.

You might also find that you do great for about 6-8 weeks and you feel great. Then you start eating cookies and hiding the wrapper etc. If you find yourself lapsing and taking unhealthy foods, missing workouts, not getting enough quality sleep, take a look deep within and try and figure out why you are going back to what used to feel comfortable.

Work on the deeper issue, and make sure you are not beating yourself up. Its a journey, not a destination. Tomorrow you do better. Gain self esteem by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Gain self esteem by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep
Gain self esteem by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep

Did you also have a similar view about self esteem? That it was just confidence and not caring about what people say! I am glad I understand it better now. Are these tips helpful? Which one has helped you or do you think would be helpful? Comment below.

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