Self esteem | Eating Disorders Victoria

Self esteem and body image are closely related risk factors in the development of an eating disorder.

Self esteem represents a person’s perception of their internal and external faculties as a whole – an all-inclusive sense of self worth.

Body image, on the other hand, is the perception of a person’s physical appearance. Low self esteem is a central theme in the development of an eating disorder, and it often manifests as a critical voice which creates and feeds perceptions of poor body image. Low self esteem naturally leads to negative perceptions of one’s physical appearance. A person’s distorted body image is reconciled only when internal issues with low self esteem are corrected.

Self esteem determines how a person lives – how they talk, handle relationships, choose career paths and create lifestyles. Low self esteem is a major risk factor in the development of an eating disorder, so an important preventative measure is to consciously enhance and rebuild self esteem. While for some, it may seem like a long and arduous path in retraining the mind, building and improving upon self esteem is a choice which is available to everybody and worth making.

Tips for Improving Self Esteem

Below are some general tips for improving self esteem. Whether you apply these as a preventative measure for low self-esteem, as self care practises in the midst of an eating disorder, or as an exercise in maintaining a healthy level of self esteem, these tips have something to benefit everybody.

* Ensure you are providing your body and mind with the basic necessities for healthy living. Get enough rest. Eat a balanced diet containing foods with plenty of nutrients for living. Exercise for the simple joy of moving and feeling alive. 

* Spend more time with people who encourage you, and less time with people who discourage you. 

* Take a strong commitment and a conscious effort to succeed in building your own self esteem. 

* The next time you make a mistake, be forgiving of yourself. 

* Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small or large. Recognise the good choices you make and congratulate yourself on your successes.

* Stand and walk with good posture.

* Do things you enjoy and know you’re worth it. Make the time to do the things that make you feel relaxed, calm and happy. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a hike, seeing a movie or getting a massage, ensure these activities are a priority for you, especially at times when you are feeling low or sensitive.

* Redefine "selfish". Learn to love yourself and to take care of your needs effectively. You can get your needs met and still have love in your life. 

* Take responsibility for your life and your wellbeing and stop taking responsibility for other people's lives. It's great to help people, but they are still responsible for their own situations and actions. 

* As you make new choices, set out goals and strategies for improving the way you think and live.

* Treat yourself with deliberate acts of kindness.

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