Quick & Easy Self-Esteem Hacks That Will Have You Feeling Yourself
Self-esteem. It's one of those terms we hear so much that I can't help but wonder, if all of us were asked what it was if we'd provide similar answers. As someone who can raise her hand in this class and admit that I battled with self-esteem for years on end, I realize that a point of my personal struggle was that I didn't get that it was synonymous with self-respect.
A woman who has self-respect is motivated by love not fear. A woman with self-respect cares about her character more than her appearance (her looks are the icing, not the cake). A woman with self-respect is unapologetic about setting boundaries that will protect her mind, body, and spirit. A woman with self-respect knows that she can't love others well if she doesn't put God first and her soul second. A woman with self-respect is driven, genuine, self-nurturing, profoundly spiritual, and absolutely adores her own company. A woman with self-respect is unapologetically unstoppable when it comes to her purpose, goals, and ambitions.
There is nothing that a woman with self-respect can't do. That's probably why so many of us battle with getting to this point and place in our lives. Once we do, there's nothing we can't do. Ever.
If you know that self-esteem is a bit of a struggle for you, that is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. All of us have been there and most of us have moments where we relapse. But whether you're looking for steps to strengthen your being altogether, or you're simply "having a moment" and need to tap back into your self-awareness and self-worth, here are some self-esteem hacks that can get you right back on track. Promise.
Wear Your Favorite Color
I've written on color psychology before; it's about more than simply having a favorite color and wearing it. Different hues tap into different sides of our nature; they can also reveal things that we want to attain at particular points in our lives. For instance, if you're really drawn to green, you may be desiring holistic health and/or financial success. If blue is your fave, internal peace and tranquility may be what you're after. Orange symbolizes creativity, purple symbolizes royalty, and grey symbolizes reliability and maturity.
On the mornings when you wake up, look in the mirror and don't feel so great about yourself, redirect your emotions by putting your favorite color on. Then Google what it symbolizes. All of the positive words that you see, think of yourself as being the literal embodiment of them, thanks to the outfit (and/or make-up) that you have on.
Adjust Your Posture
My posture isn't the best. It comes from sitting — and by that, I mean slouching — in my comfy chair as I'm writing throughout the day. But ever since I read that our posture has a direct effect on our moods, I've been more intentional about sitting up straight.
How does posture have the power to make us feel bad? Whenever we slouch, it puts stress on our body; especially our spine. That can affect how we breathe, which can affect the amount of oxygen that gets to our brain. Over time, that can make us feel drained, sad, and even depressed.
If you're like most of the free world, you probably spend most of your time sitting at a computer all day. If you want to know how you should be sitting, click here for the breakdown. Make adjustments where needed and see if it makes you feel better. It should.
Think. Then Act. Immediately.
Something that low self-esteem does is rob us of our self-confidence. One way to get it back is to make a decision and then act on it — immediately. If you know that it's time to end a toxic relationship, stop venting to your girls about it. Write Mr. Crazy an email and send it. If you've been talking about needing to work out more, on your lunch break, sign up for a gym membership. If you've been wanting to move up at your office, walk over to your manager and request a formal meeting.
People with high self-esteem are never comfortable with just talking about how they want their life to be; they are always making the kind of moves that get them closer to their aspirations and goals.
Write a Personal Mission Statement
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I am all about annual mission statements, though. They are a great way to keep you focused on what your core values are and the kind of contribution you want to make in this world. A personal mission statement can also serve as a guide so that you can know when you're about to make a decision that works in your favor vs. one that could totally throw you off course.
It's been a while since I've penned a professional mission statement (I need to get on that), but I did write a personal one around my birthday last year and bay-bay — it totally changed my life! And was like a Vitamin B12 shot to my self-esteem. I am all about penning them. (If you've never written one before, you can learn how to here.)
Attempt Something New
Again, self-esteem is all about self-respect and self-respect is all about honoring both yourself and your time. Every single day that the Most High gives you is an opportunity to do something great in a way that no one else on this planet can do it. Unfortunately, most of us don't live our lives this way. We stay stuck in a routine that consists of very little fun, spontaneity, or newness.
There are all sorts of data to support that doing things like traveling to foreign countries, conquering things that scare us or taking risks all play a role in making us more self-aware and comfortable with ourselves.
When's the last time you did something for the first time? What are you waiting on? Your self-esteem needs you to.
Turn Off Your Notifications (for the Rest of the Day)
Yeah, I already know. Some of y'all aren't gonna be happy to hear this, but there is scientific evidence to support that our smartphones have a way of doing some real damage to our self-esteem and level of happiness. Between all of the bad (or just plain crazy) news, celebrity gossip, exes on IG, and filtered pics of people — sometimes it's more than our minds and hearts can take. Then, if you add to that all of the texts that are constantly coming through from people we personally know, it's a miracle that we're able to get anything done.
If you're tapped into the Matrix so much that it's got you doubting yourself, comparing yourself, or tempting yourself to do things that are truly counterproductive (like sliding into someone's DMs who has already proven to be absolutely no good for you), do yourself, your self-esteem, and your future a favor and turn your notifications off for the rest of the day. Take out a few hours to hear nothing but silence. Watch how much the quiet empowers you.
Say “No” More Often
As a former codependent, I'm here to tell you that nothing takes its toll on your self-esteem quite like not establishing boundaries does or having them but allowing people to make you feel guilty for the ones that you've set. Setting boundaries is not mean or selfish. It's the ultimate form of self-care.
If you're someone who is a people pleaser that runs your own self into the ground by saying "yes" to everyone and everything all of the time, take a moment to ask yourself why you do that. If what comes to mind are things like you fear rejection or you're afraid folks won't like you if you say "no" sometimes, guess what the remedy to that is? SAYING NO.
Not only will it teach you how to take care of your own needs more often, but you'll be able to see who's in your life for the right reasons; who's in your world because they love you vs. all of the things that you do for them.
Use Some Orange Essential Oil
Aromatherapy is king — and queen. It's one of the quickest and easiest ways to totally alter our moods. Keeping this in mind, remember how I said that the color orange represents creative energy? Well, the scent of orange has the ability to relieve anxiety, anger, and depression. Many who use it also say that it improved their moods within moments of putting it on. That's because orange oil contains properties that serve as an antioxidant and an antidepressant too.
Do Something (Anonymously) for Someone Else
Another indication of someone who has a high level of self-esteem is, they don't need an audience or applause every time they do something. So long as God and they know about it, they're good; that's how at peace with themselves they are.
Words really can't express how wonderful it can make you feel to do something nice for someone without them (or anyone else) knowing anything about it. Giving that has no ulterior motive or agenda is a true characteristic of the strong.
Unfortunately, a lot of us confuse daily upkeep with actually treating ourselves. Taking a bubble bath, getting your nails done, buying some new underwear — that files under cleaning yourself, not looking crazy and keeping bacteria away from your nether regions.
Sis, please aim higher. Be intentional about 1) setting some money aside to indulge yourself and 2) doing it 1-2 times a month. Make sure it's the kind of things that remind you of just how beautiful, wonderful, and valuable you are; things that don't need a rhyme or reason other than you're worth it. Because you are!
Treating oneself is something that took me a while to put into practice. But now that I have, I can personally vouch for the fact that it is the ultimate self-esteem hack. It really is.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Scared To Straighten Your Natural Hair? Let's Debunk The Heat Damage Myths
The fear of heat damage has been instilled in me since I went natural six years ago. Since then, I vowed to take my hair health seriously and put that above all else, unfortunately, straightening my hair didn’t seem to align. People will constantly tell me, “Don’t straighten your hair, it’ll mess up your curls.” I heard this so much that it made me nervous every time I had to do it.
However, I would also see other naturals wear their hair straight, only for it to revert right back to its tight curly pattern. It made me curious, and I started to ask different natural hair stylists whether the myth was true. They all responded, “You can, but not too much.”
In case you're like I was and are a little hesitant about applying heat to your hair out of fear of damage, I want to debunk a lot of the hair-straightening myths so you don’t have to be afraid to switch up your style every now and then. Here’s the truth about heat on natural hair and how to prevent damage.
Straightening Your Hair Isn’t Bad
Don’t listen to the naysayers, the only person you should listen to is your stylist. If you’re considering switching up your curly hairstyles for something sleekier, your stylist will guide you and give you tips on the best way to do that.
One of the benefits of natural hair is that it’s typically stronger and has high elasticity to fight breakage and damage. Plus, natural hair is versatile and not confined to just one style or look. In fact, my hairstylist, Aliya Abbey of Mane Mastery, says:
“One myth that I tend to see when it comes to natural hair is we need to stay away from all heat – blow drying and straightening. While some naturals prefer to avoid heat completely, it can actually work against you. Stretching the hair for trims gives more precision and a better look at the overall health of the strands, whereas curls can camouflage split ends and damage.”
There’s No Specific Rule Book
Generally, there are best practices for maintaining healthy hair, but truth be told, it’s not one size fits all. Hair texture, porosity, health, etc., all play a role in what you can do and how to do it. What may work for you may not work for others, and vice versa. Aliya continues, “Some hair strands can withstand more heat than others.”
It’s important to know your hair so you can create a routine and plan that works best for you.
Grace Cary/Getty Images
Moderation and Minimization Are Key
As I mentioned before, too much of anything can be bad for you. When thinking of straightening your hair, protective styles, etc., it’s important to be aware of how often you're manipulating your hair. In general, a lot of naturals can’t keep our hands out of our hair, it kinda comes with the territory.
Implementing a low-manipulation routine can minimize breakage, create stronger hair strands, and promote hair growth. It’s not always what you do but how much you’re doing it. In terms of how often you should straighten your hair, Aliya adds that “straightening more than two times a month could cause weakness in the hair."
Use the Right Tools
I used to think all heat tools were the same. I've always based healthy straightening practices on technique. While that's true, the tools you use are just as important. The cheaper blow dryers and flat irons tend to overheat your hair or not straighten your hair well enough. When it comes to flat irons, it is best to get one where you can control the heat via temperature instead of high and low. This will allow you to see how much heat you're putting on your hair and have control.
On the other hand, if the blow dryer or flat iron isn't of quality, it will require you to pass through your strands more than necessary and possibly burn your hair. "Heat damage is caused by tools that are too hot, tools that are being passed by a section of hair too many times, and/or dehydrated hair. It's important to take note of the type of tools being used and the frequency of straightening. Don't forget to steam and hydrate!"
Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images
Heat Damage Is Preventable
One last fact about straightening natural hair is that heat damage is preventable, not inevitable. There are a few ways to avoid heat damage, one being steam and deep conditioning your hair. Doing this not only makes the strands more hydrated but also stronger.
Secondly, using a heat protectant is important. It creates a barrier between hair and heat exposure to protect your strands.
Lastly, have a professional do it. If you don't know what you're doing, get someone who does. Using the right care and technique can save you and your hair a lot of stress. Seeing a stylist who specializes in natural hair and silk presses can promote strong, healthy hair and avoid heat damage.
Don't be like me and let the unnecessary fear of heat deter you from your versatility. As long as you prioritize your hair health, you'll be okay. I follow the exact same routine with the help of my stylist, and my hair thickness, elasticity, and health have never been compromised.
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Featured image by Deagreez/Getty Images