What comes to mind when you think of anxiety? Most people would answer that question with words like worry, stress, fear, dread, or panic. And they would not be wrong. But how many folks associate low self-esteem with an anxiety disorder? After a little thought, however, the connections become more obvious.
If you feel scared on a regular basis, it’s not a mindset that breeds confidence. You feel vulnerable and perhaps anxiety is telling you that you are weak. Anxiety causes us to doubt our abilities. We lose faith in ourselves which, in turn, makes us more susceptible to anxiety.
3 Tips To Improve Your Self-Esteem When You Have Anxiety
1. Be Your Own Motivational Speaker
Anxiety is a skilled liar. Therefore, it must be challenged. Here are a few simple ways to swing the dynamic in your favor:
- Speak praise to yourself: Compliment and encourage yourself on a daily, if not hourly basis.
- Keep a journal: Keep lists of your goals, accomplishments, and dream. Revisit this journal often.
- Reward yourself: When you nip anxiety in the bud, do something nice for yourself.
2. Take Action
Nothing counteracts anxiety like taking action. If you allow anxious emotions to keep you from doing what you like and need to do, your self-esteem is not given a chance to increase. Create challenges each day and follow through. Start small. For example, if social anxiety is your nemesis, put yourself in public places every day. Say hi to people. Engage in small talk. Work your way up and watch your confidence grow!
3. Strike a Power Pose
This one might sound too good to be true but it has plenty of research behind it (more about that soon). The basic idea is to strike a pose that makes you appear and feel physically bigger and stronger. Here’s an example:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Your hands on your hips
- Your head held high
- Square off your shoulders and stick out your chest
- Hold the position for as long as you can (but at least two minutes)
In this pose, you set off physiological changes. These changes alter how your brain functions and, in turn, shift how you feel about yourself. If that wasn’t enough, studies show that the people who encounter you in this pose instantly get a strong, positive first impression of you. Their palpable reaction will further trigger your confidence and all of this is accomplished without speaking a word.
It sounds crazy but low-power poses have been shown to reduce testosterone (a hormone of dominance) by as much as 10 percent. Meanwhile, a powerful stress hormone called cortisol can spike by 15 percent. Conversely, in a power pose, check out these numbers:
- 25 percent decrease in cortisol
- 20 percent increase in testosterone
Translation: You have more confidence and are better equipped to manage stressful situations. So, look up some power poses, choose which ones you prefer, and strike these poses as often as possible.
Anxiety and Self-Esteem Are Complicated Issues
None of the above is designed to downplay the serious impact these issues can have on your life. Anxiety is a diagnosable mental health disorder. Low self-esteem has been linked to higher risks of depression and self-harm. In other words, by all means, take self-help steps to improve your well-being. But if you feel overwhelmed by out-of-control emotions, please reach out for help.
A skilled therapist is an ideal person to speak with about all of this. Your therapy sessions can become a safe avenue for exploring your feelings and behaviors. Together, you can discover healthy new approaches — and that is a fast track to higher self-esteem!