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Low self-esteem can be a difficult thing to deal with and manage at the best of times, but when the holiday season comes around, it can be even trickier. From seeing relatives who are judgemental or make comments about your weight, love life, or career, to attending parties where you feel self-conscious, to seeing everyone’s ‘perfect’ photos on Instagram, the holidays are particularly triggering for many people. In this article, we discuss how to deal with low self-esteem during the holidays, so that not only will you enjoy the holiday season more, but so that you can tackle your low self-esteem once and for all!

Set your boundaries

One of the biggest triggers for those who suffer with low self-esteem during the holidays is nosey loved ones who feel the need to comment, often cruelly, on your weight, your career, your love life, and more. This can be hard to deal with for anyone, but particularly if you struggle with your self-esteem. The way to manage this – other than simply not showing up, which isn’t an option sometimes – is to set boundaries and be clear about what you will and will not accept from your loved ones. This doesn’t need to be aggressive or argumentative. But know that you have the right to be spoken to with respect, from even your closest of kin. Here are some things you can say, to set those boundaries:

·        I am not taking comments on my body right now

·        I appreciate your concern, but my weight/health is not up for discussion

·        I would rather not talk about my love life/career right now

·        Let’s just enjoy the day and not focus on XYZ, please

·        We haven’t seen each other all year, let’s talk about something we can both enjoy!

·        I’d much rather talk about XYZ than my love life/career/weight/health

Although it may leave some loved ones feeling taken aback, (especially if it’s the first time you’ve been vocal about your boundaries), know that their momentary discomfort is not your fault, and your discomfort and embarrassment are not the price you must pay for being present at these gatherings. You have the right to be loved and treated with respect at all times.

Put yourself out there

Guess what? You are not the only one who struggles with low self-esteem during the holidays! It can leave many people feeling lonely, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Especially after the year we’ve all had! In fact, the holidays are the most stressful and anxiety-inducing time of the year for many people. Being honest about this, and opening up to people about it, can be a huge relief and help you feel more connected at this time. Whether that’s talking to your friends about how you’re feeling, asking your loved ones for some extra support at this time, or chatting online in groups who share your feelings, there are many ways to reach out and connect with people during the holidays. For example, joining a Facebook group aligned with your interests can be a great place to chat about how you’re feeling if you’re not comfortable talking about it with friends and family.

Top tip: By far the best thing you can do for yourself when dealing with low self-esteem during the holidays is to seek some extra support from your counsellor or psychologist. They will provide you with a safe space for talking about how you’re feeling and offer you excellent strategies for managing your anxiety, low self-esteem, or stress during this time. Best of all, these strategies will go on to help you shape how you feel about yourself going forward, and help you to tackle that low self-esteem once and for all!

Be good to yourself

Self-care is much more than just the latest buzzword in the wellness industry. It’s actually an incredibly important part of taking care of your mental health. Self-care looks different to everyone, and changes depending on what you need most at the time. If you’re feeling a lack of self-worth during the holidays, your self-care might include:

·        Avoiding situations that are particularly triggering for you (it’s OK to say ‘no’ to some things)

·        Setting your boundaries, as mentioned above

·        Taking a night off from festivities to watch your favourite feel-good movies

·        Logging out of apps that can trigger your FOMO or low self-esteem (such as Instagram)

·        Avoiding reading or watching the news if it makes you feel stressed, anxious, or worried

·        Getting enough sleep

·        Eating well and exercising, which boost your mood and your confidence

·        Inviting a friend over for a night in or a night out, and letting them know you’d really like their support right now

·        Keeping a journal to record how you’re feeling each day and jotting down ideas for self-care

·        Booking in a session with your counsellor, even if it’s over the phone or on a video call

·        Getting outside and enjoying some sunshine, even if it’s all you achieve that day

·        Putting on your favourite music and doing a Marie Kondo-style clearing out of the house

·        Listening to uplifting podcasts like The Pep Talk Podcast, the Happy Place Podcast, or Mental – the Podcast to Destigmatise Mental Health.

Examine your feelings and expectations

Although it will take some work, examining your feelings and adjusting your expectations are both a huge part of overcoming low self-esteem. That’s why having a counsellor is so important. They can help you deep-dive into where your low self-worth comes from, what triggers these feelings for you, and what behaviours and beliefs are limiting you.

Did you know that we have programs dedicated to overcoming low self-esteem at Integrated Health Specialists? In the Personal Empowerment Program, we dive into the subconscious and conscious patterns that are holding you back from being your true, empowered self. Reach out to us today to find out more about our programs, or to book in for a counselling or psychology session today. 

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen