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I feel good

February 27 2018
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A few ideas to help you banish self-doubt when you're feeling low

It is great to feel good, but when you are feeling low here are some ideas to help you banish self-doubt, from Christina Clark

Self-esteem is a person’s ability to value themselves and their overall opinion of who they are. If low self- esteem and low mood are ignored, over time it can make people much more vulnerable to serious mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. It can also lead people to unhealthy habits as a way of coping, such as alcohol, drug use and smoking.

It’s sometimes difficult to identify low self-esteem, as often negative thoughts about yourself can become ingrained beliefs. People can find it difficult to interact with others; they may stop doing things that they used to enjoy and may become more isolated and withdrawn.

Some people are more prone to low self-esteem than others. Low self-esteem tends to begin in childhood and often stems from those around us telling us we are not good enough. These messages can also continue into adult life through the media, which often seem to dictate how we should live, act and behave.

Low self-esteem can also be caused by difficult life events, such as serious illness, loss and bereavement.

Low self-esteem is high amongst the homeless population as it can be very difficult to find self-respect and hold on to it when society can make us want to think we are worth otherwise. Everyone is worthy and capable of a fulfilled and productive life. This can sometimes be very difficult for a person to identify, remember and believe. But it is definitely possible, especially if you try some of the exercises on the opposite page.

Practice these exercises, often. This will help to develop tolerance and increase self-compassion, which are essential for healthy emotional wellbeing. It is easy to place unreasonably high expectations on ourselves, particularly in today’s society. Ask yourself: “Do I really expect this of others?” If not, then ask “Why do I expect so much from myself?”.

Neglecting our self-compassion only lengthens the experience of negative self-esteem, which causes the stress, frustration and low mood to continue. A low mood may not improve overnight, but it will with practice. Remember that you have the power to change the way you think about yourself. Nobody else has that power.

Useful links: MIND:; NHS:


DIY help

1. Positive affirmation list

Make a list of positive affirmations to remind you why you are worthy of self-love. Here’s what to do:

• Write a list of some of your strengths, maybe starting with a couple and increase over time. For example ‘I’m friendly’ or ‘I’m creative’.

• Then think about things you admire about yourself, for example the good relationship you have with a friend or your religious or political beliefs.

• Then think of your achievements – passing an exam at school, recovering from an illness, helping a friend. Keep adding to your list.

Follow up: List ways in which you can reward yourself for your strengths that don’t cost money, such as going for a long walk, reading a chapter from your favorite book, or picking (or taking a photo of) your favourite flowers.

2. Reinforcing a positive self-image

Find a piece of paper and at the top of it, write your name, surrounding it with words, sentences or pictures that remind you of everything positive that you can think about yourself. These can include your talents, achievements (as recent or as old as you like) and relationships. No negative words or language is allowed.

Follow up: Keep adding to it and keep it with you at all times so you can remind yourself that you are someone special. It’s a list you should read when you are feeling particularly negative or low in mood.

3. Complimenting exercise

Choose someone you trust to do this with. Time yourself for five minutes, telling each other things that you like about one another. It doesn’t have to last for five minutes – try for as long as you feel comfortable.

Follow up: Do you feel any better afterwards? If so, write down how you feel.


Christina Clark is a mental health nurse and NHS manager. She is particularly interested in psychosis, reducing stigma, public understanding of mental health and improving access to mental health services.