Most people associate self-esteem with psychological issues and mental health, but what they don’t realize is that self-esteem – especially low self-esteem – can have a profound impact upon physical health as well.
Low self-esteem increases stress and leads to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction. In addition, individuals with low self-esteem have no incentive to care for themselves. Instead of exercising and trying to improve their health and increase their self-esteem levels, they tend to remain inactive and passive, increasing the risk of obesity diseases such as diabetes.
The very-real physical manifestations of low self-esteem include health issues such as:
Hypertension (high blood pressure): Individuals with low self-esteem have a negative attitude and, consequently, a tendency to view challenges in life as problems that they probably cannot solve. As a result, they tend to become lethargic and make excuses as to why they “can’t” do something and don’t even try, and this leads to the conditions that, in turn, lead to hypertension.
Eating disorders: Eating is one of the most common means of addressing stress and comforting oneself. If you have low self-esteem, you may attempt to escape the thoughts and feelings of being “no good” by turning to the pleasures of eating even when you aren’t hungry, creating or exacerbating the threat of obesity. In fact, the most common causes of eating disorders are low self-esteem and poor self-image. Interestingly, the other extreme of eating disorders — anorexia nervosa — is often caused by feelings of inadequacy brought on by low self-esteem. If you feel inadequate, you won’t feel like eating, or (especially if you are female) you might decide that you aren’t “slender enough” and decide the only way to look good is to lose weight by eating as little as possible.
Insomnia: The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to have problems concentrating, perform poorly, and become depressed. Insomnia has been linked to increased risk of obesity and other health issues, including increased risk of stroke, asthma, seizures, and heart disease.
Depression: Individuals who lack self-esteem are more prone to falling into clinical depression. Depression itself is not a physical symptom, but it can lead to several physical problems including constipation, constant aches and pains, nausea, a lack of energy, even an interference with motor functions that can, in turn, lead to serious and possibly deadly problems.
The road to improving low self-esteem begins with MS. Of course, in the medical world MS is the abbreviation for multiple sclerosis, but in this case it stands for something more positive – My Self. If you have a negative impression of your self-worth, it’s important to focus on the internal, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements of “my-self” to refresh your sense of self-worth and improve your self-esteem. In my case, I was able to successfully address my drug addiction and renew myself, thereby significantly improving my sense of self-worth and my self-esteem.
Every human is an integrated whole comprised of the fundamental elements of mind, body, and soul. No one element is impacted by outside influences without the others being impacted. So, for example, if you’re feeling increased stress and it’s leading you to question what you’re doing and why it may also be causing you to lose sleep, forego exercise, and let your healthy eating habits slip. Suddenly, you’re feeling incapable of doing things and your self-esteem takes a hit. Your health and wellbeing are now being jeopardized by a “simple” case of stress and its negative affect on your self-esteem.
Unfortunately, society and the medical establishment rely on tests to inform us of our wellbeing, but they do not entertain the thought that the amount of stress we’re carrying may have something to do with our wellbeing and self-esteem. If we accept the fact that stress is something internal, not external, and affects our health and how we feel about ourselves, we can approach different situations in positive ways that can positively impact our health and self-worth. Journaling presents opportunities to explore all these inner elements that manifest themselves in our physical and mental health and, ultimately, our self-esteem.
Are you struggling with health issues that could be improved with better self-esteem? Learn strategies to improve your self-esteem — their influence and impact on our lives and ways to encourage feeling better about ourselves by downloading the eBook titled "How to Improve Your Self Esteem Through Journaling."