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10 Ways to Build Self-Esteem

By Heather Rutherford ; Updated June 13, 2017

Simply put, self-esteem is an individual's perception of their personal value and worthiness. Low self-worth can change the way you function in all aspects of life, from work to friendships and personal relationships. Whether you have struggled with low self-esteem your entire life or your feelings of low self-worth were recently brought on by challenging life circumstances, it is never too late to build your self-esteem.

Do Something Productive

You likely have a list of chores that you would like to do but have been putting off for some reason. Now is the time to get to work. Clean out the closet or plant your garden. Accomplishing tasks you have been putting off will build your self-esteem, says Charles G. Curie and Bernard S. Arons, in an article titled "Building Self-Esteem: A Self-Help Guide," published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Learn a Skill

When you discover a new activity that really allows you to shine, you can take pride in your talents, says the TeensHealth website. If you are good on your feet, take a dance class. If you like to use your hands, try fly-tying. Whatever the activity, accomplishing something challenging will build self-esteem quickly.


Exercise elevates the mood and improves your self-image. Even something as simple as a walk after work can leave you feeling energized and healthy.

Change Self-Talk

The way you talk to yourself has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself, suggests Curie and Arons. If you give yourself a hard time when something is the least bit wrong, your self-esteem will plummet. On the other hand, if you learn the ability to see the positive in situations, you will find your outlook will change and your self-esteem will rise.

Get Outside

Research conducted by Jo Barton and Jules Pretty, and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, discovered that only five minutes of activity in the outdoors can improve self-esteem. Several outdoor activities are fun and provide good exercise, including bike riding, hiking and swimming.

Lower Expectations

The need to be perfect will often lead to disappointment more than perfection. To avoid this pitfall, aim to accomplish things and try to not get wrapped up in the idea that it must be perfect. For instance, when you finish a report at work, be proud of yourself for finishing on time. If your boss requests a few edits or additions, there is no need to feel that you have failed. Instead, view this as a learning opportunity that will improve your performance next time for a job well done.

Set Goals

Set a few easily attainable goals and establish a plan to reach those goals. Once you achieve one, you can feel good about seeing a project through to the end.

Dress Up

Chances are that when you dress nicely you feel good about yourself. To build your self-esteem, ensure that you dress up a little every time you go out. This can be as simple as putting on a nice piece of jewelry or doing your hair.

Be Nice

Doing a nice thing for someone else can help boost your self-esteem, according to Curie and Arons. Get a nice gift for a co-worker, volunteer at a food bank or send a card to an old friend.

Admire a Celebrity

If you struggle to make and keep friends, the best way to build your self-esteem may be to admire a celebrity. A 2008 study conducted by Jaye L. Derrick, Shira Gabriel and Brooke Tippin, and published in the journal Personal Relationships, found that celebrity admiration helps uphold personal ideals, and as a result, builds self-esteem.

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