Self-esteem is defined as how we value and perceive ourselves. It determines our thoughts, emotions, and behavior and is shaped by our experiences and relationships. Having healthy self-esteem is crucial for our overall well-being. When our self-esteem is low, it can negatively impact both our mental and physical health in numerous ways.
According to a recent survey, around 85% of American adults suffer from low self-esteem. This widespread issue can stem from traumatic experiences, negative social interactions, or even social media usage. Damaging self-talk, self-criticism, and negative social comparisons can all contribute to diminished self-worth. When we don’t value ourselves, we engage in self-destructive habits and struggle to care for our health properly.
On the bright side, self-esteem can be improved with effort. Identifying core beliefs, challenging negative thoughts, setting achievable goals, cultivating self-compassion, and surrounding yourself with positive people can all boost your self-esteem.
Nonetheless, determining how our self-esteem affects our health is crucial to making wise choices and lifestyle behaviors: Let’s learn more about this below:
1: Reluctance to Seek Care
People with low self-esteem often feel unworthy of receiving care. They may downplay symptoms, delay screenings or necessary treatment, skip medication doses, or avoid following treatment plans. Thoughts of being undeserving or believing your needs are insignificant can prevent proper self-care, worsening your underlying conditions.
It’s crucial to remember that professional assistance is available and accessible with services like Patient Fi, which provides flexible patient financing options to enable individuals to afford the care they need. Reading about the experiences of others, such as the Patient Fi reviews available here, can be an empowering first step toward taking control of your health. If you’re considering plastic surgery, you can benefit immensely from Patient Fi.
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2: Increased Stress
Having low self-esteem often means perceiving situations as threatening or negative. This perception triggers the body’s stress response, releasing cortisol and adrenaline. While occasional stress is normal, chronic stress can suppress the immune system, raise blood pressure and contribute to anxiety, depression, and other health complications.
To reduce stress, engage in relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Likewise, keeping a gratitude journal, pursuing hobbies, and spending time with supportive loved ones can lower stress. Reframing situations in a positive light and disengaging from negative self-talk helps diminish perceived threats.
3: Unhealthy Eating Habits
Those with low self-worth frequently use food to cope with negative emotions. This unhealthy habit can manifest as overeating comfort foods, binge eating, or even starving oneself. Such eating behaviors undermine nutrition and physical health. Weight fluctuations, gastrointestinal issues, and chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer become more likely.
Combat emotional eating by exploring the root causes behind your mood fluctuations. Seeking counseling, journaling, exercising, or calling a friend can all relieve sadness, anxiety, and loneliness. Developing healthy coping skills and eating mindfully is also beneficial. Treat your body with respect by providing it with nourishing, balanced meals.
4: Increased Inflammation
Studies reveal that low self-esteem triggers inflammation in the body, indicated by higher levels of c-reactive protein. Chronic inflammation is linked to autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious conditions. Feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy greatly strain the mind and body.
Fortunately, research also discovered that improving self-esteem reduces inflammation. Positive lifestyle habits like regular exercise, proper sleep, a balanced diet, and stress management also lower inflammation. Cognitive behavioral therapy and self-compassion exercises that challenge negative self-perceptions can also be useful.
5: Greater Susceptibility to Infections
Physical and mental stress weaken the immune system, making you more prone to illnesses like the cold or flu. Those with low self-worth get sick more frequently than those with high self-esteem. Poor self-care and inadequate sleep also impair immunity. Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness can promote a mindset of neglecting one’s health.
Protect yourself from infections by getting proper rest and minimizing stressors. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins to supply nutrients that support immune function. Take time for fun hobbies that provide joy and laughter, develop self-compassion, and recognize your worth.
6: Decreased Motivation
Low self-esteem saps motivation and initiative. You’re unlikely to pursue personal or career growth or engage in healthy behaviors when you don’t believe in your abilities and feel unworthy. You may isolate socially, abandon exercise regimens, or quit managing chronic conditions. Without zeal, it becomes a struggle to care for your well-being.
Combat apathy by setting small, achievable goals each day. Crossing tasks off your to-do list provides a sense of accomplishment. Celebrate minor victories and credit yourself for trying, even if you stumble. Structured routines also foster motivation.
7: Poor Sleep Patterns
Those with low self-esteem frequently experience insomnia, restless sleep, and fatigue. A preoccupied mind dwells on negative thoughts and criticisms, making falling or staying asleep difficult—inadequate rest strains physical health by impairing concentration, productivity, mood, and the immune system.
Developing healthy sleep hygiene ensures you get sufficient, high-quality rest. Limit screen time before bed, establish a calming pre-sleep routine, and keep the bedroom cool and dark. Physical exertion also promotes better sleep.
8: Increased Substance Abuse
Using tobacco, drugs, or excessive caffeine to cope with self-loathing and difficult emotions often worsens the problem. Substance abuse can become a psychological crutch that further erodes any sense of self-worth and control. On top of that, the health consequences of long-term substance abuse range from organ damage to cancer to accidental injuries or overdose.
If you struggle with addiction, seek professional assistance to develop healthier coping strategies. Joining a support group provides community and accountability. Boosting self-esteem by cultivating positive relationships, pursuing meaningful activities, and challenging negative self-talk is also beneficial. Be patient with yourself during the recovery process.
9: Higher Mortality Risk
Several studies have concluded that low self-esteem correlates with higher mortality rates. Even when considering relevant factors like social status, depression, and healthy behaviors, low self-esteem remained linked to greater death risk. Perceiving oneself as inadequate or unworthy is life-threatening.
Thankfully, research also demonstrates that improving self-esteem can increase longevity. Begin seeing yourself as worthy of investing in your health. Set small, positive goals each day and congratulate yourself on your achievements. Foster supportive relationships that reinforce your strengths. Be patient and compassionate with yourself in this process. With time, self-affirming beliefs and behaviors will become habits.
Our perception of self-worth and competence tremendously influences mental and physical well-being. Low self-esteem fuels unhealthy, self-destructive thoughts and behaviors that undermine our health. By becoming aware of these tendencies, we can challenge ingrained negative mindsets. Implementing positive lifestyle changes and cultivating self-compassion boosts self-esteem and health outcomes. Our minds and bodies are deeply intertwined – realizing our inherent value is the first step to nurturing both in a balanced way.