By May Bleeker, updated 30 Mar 2015
When you have high self esteem you choose things that support and enhance your life, and try to minimize things that ultimately harm you or degrade your well-being.
The way you take care of yourself reflects the way that you value yourself.
The simple act of choosing the things that support your health and wellbeing is an expression of your self esteem. I think of these things as self esteem basics.
For everyday health and well-being you need the following:
Your body needs deep, regular breathing of fresh air. Exercise helps for this!
Stress causes a tightening of the diaphragm and shallower breathes. For good health both physically, mentally and emotionally you need to be able to breathe deeply. To have the capacity to expand and grow and use your creativity, you need oxygen to the brain!
Lack of exercise is one way of starving yourself of a good dose of fresh air. But so is tension. For several years I suffered with adult onset asthma and stress definitely exacerbated or even brought it on, at times. My diaphragm would tighten and I couldn't take a full breathe.
I've since found a method to control asthma symptoms by avoiding inflammation-causing foods. So look beyond the obvious to where you might be crimping your breathing style.
Since air is necessary for life, its a self esteem basic.
Your body doesn't appreciate droughts and floods any more than plants do. A regular, steady supply of fresh, clean water is what it needs.
So its better to sip water throughout the day rather than drinking nothing for hours and then gulping down large amounts all in one go.
Drink the best water you can. Preferably filtered. Or even boiled, cooled and filtered. Preferably also not water that was stored for ages in a plastic bottle.
Some people believe that water holds information, and can be 'programmed' in effect. Dr Mesaru Emoto did several experiments that appeared to show that prayers, kind words, music and other factors could affect water (as seen in changes in the symmetry and shape of frozen water crystals made from this water).
Personally I do believe water holds information. And since this is a water-based planet, and humans are two-thirds water (or liquid), we might as well pay attention to what affects water, because it will likely affect us too.
And since it has been found that prayer is not wishful thinking (it has a provable, if currently inexplicable effect), and music influences our health, I feel it can do no harm to think kind thoughts towards water.
If you send your loving thoughts out into the oceans, rivers, aqueducts and streams, perhaps the effect of these words will return to you in unexpected ways :) I love the idea of being rained on by blessings from around the world.
We cannot survive without water, so its a self esteem basic.
I love the feel of the sun on my head.
When I was a kid one of my favourite things to do was sit on this green foldup mattress that transmogrified into a big squishy chair, book in hand, with the afternoon sun slanting in through the window. It would press on my head as it if had weight and this made me feel happy.
As an adult I work indoors most of the time. Even when its a great day out I sometimes 'forget' to go out there.
At least 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin and closed eyelids is needed every day to ensure your body makes enough Vitamin D. Even on a cloudy day you can stand outside and let the light fall on your closed eyelids.
People who don't get enough sunlight develop a condition called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). They feel down and depressed and lose interest in life, but its caused by what a lack of sunlight does to your body. Since your body and mind are one - what happens to your body affects the whole of you, and vice versa.
Adequate amounts of vitamin D are only produced in the skin after 10 - 15 minutes of sun exposure, at least two times per week (with skin unprotected by sunscreen). In very smoggy cities or latitudes close to the poles more exposure may be needed to get what you need.
Of course you don't want to overdo it either, but its a good idea to feel the sun on your eyelids at least once a day.
The sun shares its energy to give life to everything on this planet. Its a self esteem basic.
As I said above - what happens to your body affects you as a whole. If you want to make a change in your life you can start with ideas, feelings and beliefs, or you can start with the body - each affects the other.
Just as your body needs a steady supply of water, it also needs a regular, steady supply of nutrients. Missed meals, sugar-rich snacks or junk food might fill the gap, but don't supply what your body needs.
When you fill up on empty calories your body stays 'hungry' for the vitamins and minerals it needs. A small amount of something healthy every meal is better than a few days of junk food, followed by a few days of super healthy eating.
In the past I discovered some benefits to eating more raw food. More recently I was able to permanently come off a daily dose of cortisone based asthma medication by simply changing to the banting way of eating.
It took years to discover what my body needs to feel healthy (Thanks Dr Tim Noakes!). I found not only physical health benefits like losing asthma symptoms and losing weight, but also mental health benefits. I had no idea eating sugar could cause me such mood swings!
Now that I know what isn't food for me even the supermarket aisles look different. I can see lines and lines of 'stuff' that just isn't food (for me).
Learning to distinguish what is and isn't food for your body is a powerful way to look after your mental state as well as your physical wellbeing. Its a self esteem basic.
Your body is part of nature and it likes rhythm. Part of that rhythm is your sleep and awake states. Like day and night. For optimal wakefulness, you need periods of rest.
In sleep deprivation experiments people developed hallucinations, delirium and dementia-like confusion when severely sleep-starved. To be healthy, you need sleep.
Find a sleep pattern that works for you and protect it from outside demands. Allow yourself a good daily dose of this self esteem basic.
Read Steve Pavlina's interesting experiment on polyphasic sleep to find out what its like to adopt a different sleep pattern to the rest of the world!
Aside from sleeping, there is a way to find even a deeper level of rest.
Deep rest is what you find in meditation or activities that allow you to feel connected and internally alert, but still.
Some people experience it whilst practicing yoga, tai chi, qi gong or other physical activities that have a spiritual focus.
Others report getting into 'the zone' while painting or drawing, or during sports like surfing, base-jumping, extreme skiing, or even golf, where the attention becomes focused into one point and actions feel clear, simple and natural in how they unfold.
Whatever method you choose, this type of 'rest' is different to what is achieved through a good night's sleep. It rejuvenates you in a special way that gives you extra resources needed for personal growth and creativity.
While some people get by without it, others experience the very real benefits that deep rest provides. Like all the others it is optional, but I consider this a self esteem basic.
We all need to feel connected and loved. We want to feel seen, heard, and acknowledged. Relationships are important, even the one's that feel difficult (don't they all sometimes feel difficult?).
We see ourselves through the mirrors that others present to us. We learn about ourselves, through interacting with others.
What we see in others, we reinforce in ourselves.
- A Course In Miracles
People who have a strong relationship base, whether through family or friends, church or social groups, fair better when faced with the difficulties of life.
When we feel lonely and disconnected, our health suffers too.
Nurture the relationships you have (even the crappy one's - how can you make them better? What can you see in the other person, that is positive?). Be willing to take a risk to make new friends, but also to keep old one's close. Its a self esteem basic.
Try the self esteem worksheet below to work out whether there are any areas of self care in your life that need more attention.
Click on the thumbnail to download the print-friendly worksheet (25 KB pdf file).
On a scale of 0 - 10 rate yourself on each of the factors.
0 = low
5 = good enough
10 = exceptionally good
When you have rated yourself on each factor connect the dots to see whether your circle is balanced, or whether there are any areas that need your attention.
There should ideally be a well-rounded wheel, with all the self esteem basics preferably 5 or above. If any dip below 4, try to come up with ways to bring that element into greater balance in your life.