Start writing down your thoughts, hopes and dreams on a regular basis. Your journal can be any kind of booklet – an exercise book, a ring coiled workbook or a blank book you can get at the dollar store. You can even journal online. No matter where you journal, be sure to keep your writing private until you’re really sure that you want to share it – and only share it with someone you trust.
In your journal, you can include:
- Stickers, doodles or sketches;
- Poems and song lyrics – either ones that you like or ones that you’ve written yourself; and
- “Top ten” lists of your favourite songs, movies, books, foods, etc.
What you write in your journal can help you figure out who you are and what you like and dislike. Try to focus on self-acceptance in your journal – if you write down something that upset or embarrassed you, try to find the compassionate, forgiving side of yourself and balance out the things that made you feel bad.
Have fun with your journal, and make it a positive part of your day.
- Positive self-talk:
Tell yourself positive things instead of negative. Instead of saying, “I suck,” you could say “I’m okay.” Eventually, instead of saying “I’m okay,” you might be saying, “I’m great!” Once you start challenging your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, it will become a habit, and your self-esteem will improve as a result. Check out these tips on how to talk positively to yourself.
Instead of focusing on what hasn’t gone well, focus on the things you’re good at, even if they seem small – every step counts!
Try learning about mindfulness, which means taking care of your mind, body and spirit by focusing on living in the moment. See the page on mindfulness in Teen Stress Hacks for some pointers on how to do this. (link )
Surround yourself with good people – find those friends and family members who make you laugh and feel good about yourself. Do activities with them that are fun and make you feel valued.
- Get active:
Find productive ways to spend your spare time – take up a hobby, volunteer, join a group or help out at home. Filling up your spare time by doing something that matters to you will help you to feel good about yourself.
- Take a compliment:
The next time someone says something nice to you, try to just say thanks instead of countering the compliment with “yeah, but…” If you say something like “yeah, but I did crappy at that last time” or “yeah, but my hair sucks” whenever you receive a compliment, you erase the good feelings that the compliment was meant to provide. Try to accept a compliment with a simple “thanks!” and see if you feel any differently afterwards.
- Don’t believe everything you see:
Pictures of attractive youth or celebrities in magazines or online are not very realistic. Try to remember that these images likely have been photo-shopped or re-touched or, at the very least, were taken after a session with professional make-up artists. These effects can make a big difference in how people appear and can cause you to make unrealistic comparisons that make you feel bad.
- Try to avoid “I should have” or “I could have” statements.
If you tend to look back and criticize how you behaved or handled a situation, you are practicing negative self-judgment, which is pretty hard on self-esteem and self-acceptance. Instead, think of hindsight as an opportunity to be compassionate towards yourself and try to focus on the fact that you did the best you could in a given situation. You can plan on improvement for next time, but try not to beat yourself up about what has already happened.
- Congratulate yourself!
If you made good effort, tried your best if you’re just proud of being you, give yourself a pat on the back! Find the value in yourself and accept yourself for who you are every day. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Keep trying – you can change your self-esteem for the better, and make a positive difference in your own life!