What if improving your health was as simple as improving your outlook? A recent study by Concordia University’s Center for Research in Human Development suggests it really may be that easy. The study found that higher self-esteem correlated with less health problems in adults over 60.
In the study, researchers tracked self-esteem, cortisol, stress level, and symptoms of depression in 147 60+ adults throughout the course of four years. They found that participants who identified themselves as having low self-esteem also had high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Too much cortisol can lead to weight gain, difficulty sleeping, digestive struggles, and memory impairment—all of which can lead to more serious health problems down the line. An overall better psychological well being can help put you in the best position to have fewer health problems later in life.
Unfortunately, boosting your self-esteem is easier said than done. Unlike treating your body, treating your mind can be a trickier business. However, with the right approach and attitude, you can work toward improving your self-esteem and your overall health and wellness. To help you get started, we put together a few tips and ideas:
Socialize: Often, a lowered sense of self-esteem for adults over 60 comes from significant life changes like retirement or children moving out of the house. This can lead to an increased sense of loneliness and isolation. And what’s the best cure for loneliness? Socializing! Find a group of friends to meet with regularly, join a club, or simply find reasons to get out of the house.
Smile: It might seem like a simple fix, but the physical act of smiling changes the flow of blood to the brain and can actually have the effect of making you feel happier—even if the sentiment wasn’t there when you started. Smiling releases endorphins that can boost your mood and improve your outlook.
Compliment Yourself: Chances are, if you sit down to think about it, you have a lot to be proud of. Make a list of your greatest accomplishments and bask in what you’ve achieved. Or imagine what you would say to yourself if you were a friend looking to cheer yourself up. Compliment yourself on even the small things: your outfit, a great meal you cooked, or how well you organized an event.
Volunteer: Giving back to others is a great way to improve your own self-worth and do a little good in your community. Volunteering can have even more positive effects on your self-esteem if you find something you are passionate about.
Take Care of Your Body: Just as the health of your mind can affect the health of your body, the health of your body can also affect your mind. By eating well and exercising regularly, you’ll feel better about how your body looks and functions in general. Eating foods that nourish your body can help keep you from feeling sluggish.
With all those tips in mind, make sure you aren’t confusing a low self-esteem with a more serious issue, like depression or anxiety, and see your doctor if you’re concerned.
Interested in learning more about boosting self-esteem and well being? See how animals can benefit your physical, social, and emotional health!