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How to Give Your Self-Esteem a Healthy Boost

Why are we so hard on ourself?

If you asked me all the things I hated about myself, I’d pour you some tea because it would take a while to list everything. Physical flaws, personality flaws, my weaknesses, my fears…I probably could spend all day picking myself apart. By the time it was over, I’d need to check into a mental hospital.

On the contrary, if you asked me to tell you something good about myself, I’d probably draw a blank – at least for a moment. I’d most likely come up with a few things, none of which would probably be a physical trait. Every time I’d begin to say something, I’d immediately think of how that could be better or how “it’s not really that great”. I could come up with a few good personality traits, moral traits and probably some professional strengths but, all in all, it would be one difficult task.

The Remodel Job: You Through YOUR Eyes

Why is it so hard to like ourself? I think it’s because we know our flaws better than anyone else, and can’t see how we look to others. Think of our body like our house. People can come to our house and brag on how pretty it is, compliment the decorating, etc but they aren’t inspecting it with a white glove. Only we know what is broken, how dusty the baseboards are and what parts have been neglected because we are the ones who see it up close every day. Despite what needs work, we make it as presentable as we can to share with others. This happens a lot in fitness. We work so hard to remodel ourselves, and maintain our body (like we do our house), that we are aware of our flaws even more.

The Archie Bunker Effect: You Through ANOTHER’s Voice

Another reason we are hard on ourself is because others can be hard on us. Think of Archie Bunker. We all remember what a jerk he was – a funny jerk, but a jerk still. Yet, we know he loved Edith. He adored her actually. However, he was so darn hard on everyone and rarely gave a compliment.

Unfortunately, our loved ones will sometimes point out our flaws more than our good traits, just like good ole Archie. Ironically, they probably could make a list a mile long of all your great traits. They SEE you better than you probably see yourself, but they often TELL you everything they don’t like a lot more. It’s like having one pimple on your face. If everyone points at it all the time, you can’t think of anything else besides that annoying pimple. You’ll feel ugly and want to hide, no matter how great the rest of you looks. But, the same person with the same pimple is much better if no one points it out. They’ll almost forget it’s there if people let them.

I’m not saying we should ignore our flaws – if they are something we can work on, we should be aware of them enough to want to work on them. I believe we should always want to improve. However, we can’t let them get us down because there are still SO many parts of you that are simply amazing.

Things to Consider:

1. You have great traits whether you see them or not. Others do. You just need to open your eyes.

2. When others point out flaws, they are normally the same few flaws they continue to point out. Tell them “you know, you’re working on it” and to be patient.

3. If you focus on correcting flaws every day, allot extra time to focus on your progress. If you need to pull out fat pictures, do it. If you need to keep a package of Ramen Noodles out to remember when you used to be broke, do it. Support a child in need and post his/her picture on the refrigerator to help keep a healthy perspective in life. Do whatever it takes to remind you where you came from so you aren’t so focused on where you are headed you forget to celebrate where you are.

4. Be thankful. Thank the Lord for everything you DO have and for everything you are. God made you and He thinks you are great. It’s hard to be ungrateful when you are talking to God. That’s like telling an artist you think their painting is ugly. Also, you can’t lie to Him and you can’t get him to feel sorry for you when there are people in the world who don’t know if they will survive another day without food. He knows just how truly blessed you are, and will quickly remind you too. You’ll find your mind and heart will open up in a unique way. He’ll help bring you back to reality. Before you know it, you’ll be overwhelmed with life, your health, your friends, your functioning body and all that you DO have that’s truly great.

Homework:

Write down at least 5 things that you feel are amazing about yourself and write them down. Post it at your desk or vanity to remember every day. Share the love and tell a co-worker, friend or loved one at least 5 things you like about them and right them down so they can post it and remember they are awesome too!

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STRESSED? 10 Reasons Why You Want the Runner’s High

We all experience stress from time to time. Although we may experience the same type of stress (financial stress, stressful relationship issues, work stress, etc) we all respond to stress very differently (see my facebook poll below).

While we can’t always control the actual stress itself, we sure as heck can control how we respond to it – and THAT can make ALL the difference in the world!!

What causes stress?
I found this description on NaturalNews.com: “Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Endorphins are morphine-like hormones that are responsible for the feeling of elation, or well being that distance runners get from running. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.” This chemical reaction from exercise is often what people refer to as the Runner’s High.

To be honest, when I am stressed, the LAST thing I want to do is exercise. I want to go home and hide. I want to sit on the couch and entertain my brain with mindless TV. I want to eat and drink the night away until I’m so tired I crash in bed, hopefully forgetting (and ignoring) all of my problems. If I’m in a really pathetic mood, I will draw a bath and be sure to sulk for a long period of time. I won’t put on make-up or leave the house to do much of anything. BUT after that response, I will even feel WORSE! Yet, if I suck it up and exercise, the stressful circumstance may not change, but my view of that stress, and the way I handle it, completely changes. Here’s why.

10 Reasons Why Exercise is the Best Stress-Reliever

  1. Exercising regularly can reduce stress, and increase productivity. Since most of us have more stress when we are the busiest, with a demanding schedule, it actually is beneficial to exercise during our busiest time – which is often times when we skip our workouts the most.
  2. Exercise is prescribed to help relieve nervous tension. Studies showed people had a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles after exercise. This also helps relieve painful muscle spasms in common areas like our neck, back and shoulders.
  3. Exercise relaxes you. One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. Since most of us struggle to relax when we are stressed, exercise is a good replacement for Valume and other medications commonly used to fight anxiety and nervous tension.
  4. Exercise improves self-esteem. When you exercise, you are more confident to handle stress. Small stresses won’t bother you as much, and bigger stresses will seem more manageable because you feel more confident to attack them. Other stresses related to your appearance or relationships may even completely go away when you take away your own insecurities.
  5.  Intense exercise has a greater effect on reducing stress. A new study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that a relatively high-intensity exercise is superior in reducing stress and anxiety, especially in women – and even more in older women. (no excuses my menopause ladies!)
  6. The rhythmic running, outside or on the treadmill, can clear the mind. (you gotta love hearing that runners!!) In a world that constantly keeps the mind occupied, this is super helpful for troubleshooting problems and exploring new ideas. The Mayo Clinic calls exercise “Meditation in Motion“.
  7. Exercise has been proven to lower symptoms of depression and anxiety. Study after study continues to prove exercise is one of the best anti-depressants available.
  8. Exercise improves sleep, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, which is often disrupted when one is going through a lot of stress. If you sleep better at night, you are more able, and ready, to bring on what the day throws your way.
  9. Exercise (which stresses our muscles and cardiovascular system) helps the body a chance to practice dealing with stress. It forces the body’s physiological systems to communicate better. The more sedentary we are, the less efficient our body is when responding to stress.
  10. People who exercise eat better. Since many people actually have additional stress due to weight gain and self-esteem issues, exercise helps improve our eating patterns, as well as improve our quality of food which can help us feel better and have more energy.

The way we respond to stress is habit. We will automatically try to turn to what we have taught our body to do when we experience stress – drinking, sleeping, eating, etc. If you want to change your first response, you have to change your stress-response. At first, it will be purposeful. You will have to force yourself to go to the gym, or go for a run, every day – especially after a bad day at work or a stressful event. Eventually it will become second nature.

When I asked my facebook peeps what their response to stress was, here were some of their honest answers. Just think how awesome we’d all feel if we all started to turn to exercise!

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