Boost Your Self Esteem: Activities And Tips To Help

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated May 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Self-esteem refers to the perception you have of yourself. It can include how you see yourself physically and what you believe you can accomplish with your abilities. Other factors like self-confidence and self-worth can also tie into your overall image of yourself. 

If you struggle to see any positive qualities in yourself, you might be living with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem can impact several areas of your life and indicate poor mental health. However, you can try a few activities to transform how you feel about yourself and increase the chances of positive self-esteem.

Getty/Luis Alvarez
Positive self-esteem can be a learning process

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem involves how you think or feel about yourself. Various factors can contribute to high or low self-esteem, including but not limited to the following: 

  • The way you perceive yourself 
  • The general themes of your self-thoughts 
  • How you act in relationships 
  • How you act at home 
  • The way you see yourself at school or work
  • Physical or mental illness
  • Your class or financial status 
  • Your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities
  • What you hear from the media
  • Your expectations
  • Past traumatic experiences

Why is self-esteem important?

Your self-esteem can impact the way you live your life and make decisions. For example, someone with healthy self-esteem may believe they are capable. This belief might help them assume that others will like them and that they can succeed in their pursuits. In addition, they may have the courage and confidence to interact with new people or go after a promotion at work.

If someone struggles with their self-esteem, they may have difficulty taking risks to talk with new people or put themselves in the running for a new job. Even if someone looks outwardly confident, their thought processes can be harmful and self-critical. 

Low self-esteem doesn’t only impact people in situations like making friends or getting a job. It can also lead to:

  • Substance use 
  • Poor relationships
  • Mental health conditions 
  • Relationship conflict
  • Reassurance seeking 
  • Difficulty forming secure attachments

Self-esteem collage

You can try a few activities to improve your self-esteem, as well as self-esteem worksheets you can find online or at-home projects you can create. Below are a few examples. 


Self-esteem journals, gratitude journals, and journaling worksheets are formatted to document the positive parts of your day. They might offer an area to write down what you’re grateful for, what you were successful at, and what you felt proud of yourself for doing. Being able to look back over the successes that you had each day may help you build self-esteem and confidence. You can create your own journaling sheets or use a journal if you don’t want to print pre-made options. 

Sentence stems

Sentence stem worksheets give you the first part of a sentence, prompting you to fill out the end of the phrase. For example, the sentence might start with, “It made me feel great when…” or “I like who I am because….” If you struggle to develop feelings about yourself or relay positive topics in relation to yourself, these positive psychology prompts can help you start the journaling process. 

Affirmation worksheets

Affirmations are sentences you can write down or state out loud that reflect how you want your self-esteem, lifestyle, or circumstances to be. Repeating these affirmations to yourself is a way to claim what you want before it has arrived. For example, saying, “I love myself and believe I am beautiful.” You may not feel these statements are factual, but affirmations are about attempting to change your mindset. 

This method can also be effective for people with mental illnesses. For example, affirmations for anxiety reinforce positive thoughts and help individuals feel more in control of their nervous system reactions. 

Reframing worksheets

Reframing self-esteem worksheets are designed to help you rethink experiences and maladaptive thought patterns in your life. They have sections for you to write down details about an event or situation, the negative thoughts or emotions connected with it, and the thoughts and judgments you developed based on low self-esteem. 

To respond to these thoughts, you can reframe them to a more realistic or positive approach to the situation. For example, if you thought, “I’m not worthy of graduating,” after you failed a test, you might replace the thought with, “I want to increase my GPA because I’m smart and capable of doing so.” 

Compliments journal

You may also struggle with negative self-talk if you struggle with low self-esteem. Negative self-talk involves self-criticism, including within your mind. A compliments journal can help you begin to challenge your thoughts. 

Every morning when you wake up, take a notebook and write down three aspects of your personality, appearance, or behavior that are positive or that you enjoy. For example, you might compliment your hair, how you help others, or how you use humor. Try to ensure each item is positive and contains no hidden insults—think of it as similar to complimenting somebody in your social circle. Once you have written down three compliments, stand in front of a mirror, and say them out loud before you start your day. Doing so is another form of affirmation and can promote high self-esteem.

Activities to improve your self-esteem

If you often learn visually, it may help you to have a tangible piece of art to look at for self-esteem building activities. Find a poster or bulletin board and gather pictures representing your identity. For example, you might add photos of activities you enjoy, accomplishments, and dreams. Think from your perspective rather than considering other people’s expectations of you. Arrange these images on your self-esteem collage as feels best to you and put them on a wall where you can see them daily.

Develop a new skill

If you lack confidence in your abilities, learning a new skill may help you feel better about yourself in a specific area. Even if you feel you won’t succeed, take a chance on yourself to get started and prepare yourself with the necessary materials. 

Choose an activity you’re interested in learning, whether it may advance your career or offer a fun way to pass the time. As you build the new skill, you may grow your confidence in seeing what you can accomplish. 

Choose your connections wisely

It may help to pay attention to the people you spend the most time with. If they constantly criticize you or themselves, their behavior can affect your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself.

Try to limit the amount of time you spend with people spreading negative messages. Focus on building friendships with people who have a positive outlook. Their positivity can overflow onto you, which may help you develop self-compassion and a positive outlook. 

Change your opinion of failure

In a society that seems to give out awards to everyone but you, facing failure or a lack of recognition can be challenging. However, you can choose to look at your failures as learning opportunities instead. 

Failure is often a part of being human, and the people you admire may have also failed. Instead of comparing yourself to others, see each setback as an opportunity for growth and learning. Failure can often lead to success. Spend time thinking about the failures holding you back and consider what you can learn from those experiences. Then, try to move forward more positively and do better next time. 

Let go of unrealistic expectations

For some, low self-esteem can be caused by having unrealistic expectations. These expectations might be self-imposed or caused by the messages you hear from others. For example, some people have parents who pressure them to succeed academically or professionally. 

Looking at the expectations you have placed on yourself can help you see areas where you might be able to adjust. Trying to achieve perfection can cause your self-esteem to deteriorate. Instead of expecting perfection, make achievable goals you’d like to meet in a specific period and take minor steps toward them each day. 

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Positive self-esteem can be a learning process

Speak to a professional

You’re not alone if you’re experiencing low self-esteem. If your self-esteem doesn’t improve no matter what you do, you might also be living with a mental health condition or chronic stress. 

While you might be able to find a therapist in your local area, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp can offer more convenient and cost-effective care in some cases. Through an online platform, you can connect with a therapist with experience with self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. You can meet with them via phone, video, or live chat sessions.  

One study assessed the effectiveness of an internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) program for adolescents with low self-esteem. Researchers found that those in the treatment group showed significantly higher self-rated self-esteem levels than the control group at post-treatment. Additionally, the online CBT intervention significantly positively impacted secondary measures of self-esteem, self-compassion, quality of life, depression, and anxiety.


Developing positive self-esteem can be vital to a productive and healthy life. Low self-esteem can result from various factors, making it difficult to interact with the world as your best self. If you’d like to experience a change in your self-image and grow to see yourself in a more encouraging light, consider the above tips. You can also contact a licensed professional for further guidance and support.
You are deserving of positive self-esteem
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