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You probably look around you at your friends and colleagues and assume that they are naturally confident and bursting with self-esteem, but the truth is, everyone struggles to see themselves positively from time to time. Of course, for many people, low self-esteem is a chronic problem that affects their life choices and happiness. There are plenty of people out there who will try to tell you that you can improve your self-esteem by taking medication, losing weight or changing your physical appearance, but the real improvement has to come from within. Here are four natural steps to improve self-esteem that you can get started with today.

Improved Self esteem

1. Learn to love – or laugh at – your imperfections

It is very easy to take ourselves a little too seriously in life, but perfect people who make perfect decisions simply do not exist. Practice seeing the lighter side of your worries or problems, talk about them with friends, and laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Comparing yourself to the people around you is useless, as everyone is unique and has to make their own path through life. What is right for someone else might not be right for you. You are a unique and complex person who has faults and make mistakes like everyone else, but that does not mean that you do not deserve to feel proud of what you have overcome and achieved.

2. Focus on your positive attributes

Sometimes, it is possible to change your outlook on life simply by adjusting your focus. If you are anything like the rest of the human race, you spend your life worrying or obsessing about what you do not like about yourself. This will naturally bring your mood down, make you more inclined to be pessimistic and prevent you from seeing yourself accurately. Try to build a new habit of giving yourself compliments, encouragement, and a pat on the back when you have achieved something. Give yourself the same treatment that you would give to a loved one and you might be surprised how differently you feel when you look in the mirror.

3. Show kindness to others

If thinking about yourself is too much, turn your attention to the people around you. Doing good deeds and spreading positivity for your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, or even total strangers is a wonderful way to make the world a better place. It can also make you feel a lot more positive about life in general, and, by extension yourself. Do some volunteering, give an online donation to a good cause, help out in the community, do some shopping for a sick or elderly relative, leave some positive comments online, or simply smile at passers-by.

4. Take care of your mental and physical health

Our mental and physical health are connected in ways that not even doctors fully understand, so it is vital that you continue to take care of your physical health even when you do not believe you deserve it. Leading a healthy lifestyle does not mean only eating fruit and vegetables or committing to an extreme exercise routine. It means eating a balanced diet but still indulging in foods that make us happy now and again, exercising in a way that we find enjoyable, getting plenty of sleep, pursuing a hobby that we are passionate about, taking time to ourselves when we need it, and spending time with loved ones.

A Doctor of Public Health, Lacy Ryan has accrued more than ten years of experience, making a name for herself as a researcher, writer, policy analyst, and project manager specializing in public health and international development.She earned her PhD in Community and Behavioural Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, her Master’s Degree in Global Health and Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh, and her Bachelor’s Degree with Honours in Biomedical Sciences (with minours in Biology and Psychology) at the University of Waterloo.