As I wept over a spelling mistake, I couldn’t help but think that the person I was before lockdown would not have made this error. That during the endless days spent cooped up indoors, something very important to my sense of self had been forever misplaced. And I am not alone. Our confidence is at an all-time low, with one recent survey suggesting that three in 10 women have low or lessthan-average levels of self-esteem. Whether it is due to a lack of support, a job loss, or even a relationship breakdown, a quiet but growing group of us are finding the return to ‘normality’ a tricky experience. So when your self-esteem is at rock bottom during a time of intense change, is there anything you can do to get it back?
When I think about what exactly self-esteem is, I realise that I am not sure. It is easy to tie it up with confidence, but according to the National Health Service, UK and a host of well-being experts, it is more than that. “When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves, and about life in general,” explains Patrick Kwesiga, Chief Operating Officer (Clinical and Operations) at the UK-based mental health charity, Living Well. “But when our self-esteem is low, we feel less able to handle day-to-day challenges.”
Patrick says that it is common to associate self-esteem with our bodies, but actually, it is far more related to self-respect. “To put it simply, selfesteem describes how much you appreciate and like yourself. It encompasses all the beliefs we hold about ourselves. It is also something that fluctuates and does not stay constant. It comes down to two things—our unconscious thoughts, which are the things we can’t control, that are often rooted in our childhood or relationships, and our conscious thoughts.”
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