A lot of people probably won’t agree with this post but my blog is a place to share my travel and lifestyle stories and it’s easy to stop reading at any point.

I have suffered from anxiety and depression since I was about 14 years old and without really acknowledging it, I struggled through high school until my final year where the fog seemed to lift a little. During this year, I was a new person with a confidence I hadn’t seen in several years and I was incapable of caring what anyone thought of me.

When I got to university, I first felt on top of the world and then as I got further into semester one I began to “lose my sparkle” as an art teacher at my first secondary school once told me. I struggled endlessly with self-hatred and spent a lot of time constantly seeking approval from other people to make me feel better.

Eventually, I started going to counsellors and doctors, trying to get some help for what was going on in my mind constantly but this didn’t seem to work for me and I have continued to struggle with it over the past several months.

When I arrived back in Dundee for this semester, I was at one of my lowest points. I believed that I had ruined my loved one’s lives and that I was just a constant burden on other people. All I have ever wanted is to make everyone around me the happiest they can be and I hadn’t realised how much I have failed at this until recently. I have failed because I have not been happy myself and you project your emotions on to other people.

I took a break away from everything to spend some time alone and some time with my family. I also started meditating and have come up with some changes I need to make for my own benefit before I can start to benefit anyone else. I thought it might be useful for anyone who may also have low self esteem to see a little list of things I am trying to change but please also understand that you don’t have to continually succeed in all of these things. Mental health issues are exhausting and you are not always capable of being 100% productive every day. I have told myself that as long as I try every day to do these things then I have succeeded.

8 tips to help increase self esteem and happiness:

1. Wake up every morning and have a cup of whatever hot/cold drink you prefer; I have decided to go for tea as this is my favourite. I plan on doing the same every night but instead of breakfast tea, camomile, as this really calms me down.

2. Shower every morning before the day begins. This may sound odd to anyone who doesn’t suffer from mental illness, but sometimes this is one of the most difficult tasks for people who lack self-love.

3. Wear whatever god damn clothes you feel like. If you wanna wear pyjamas to university, no one cares, if you wanna wear a big pink fluffy coat with a red skirt and green converse, do it, no one cares. I spent so long worrying about what everyone would think of the way I looked and I realise now that as long as I think I look good, no one else’s opinion matters.

4. Drink more water and eat when you’re hungry. I drink far too many fizzy drinks and I’ve found whenever I’m feeling low water is the only drink that refreshes me. I also ate for any reason which wasn’t a healthy choice. I would eat when I was sad, I would eat when I was happy, I’d eat just because someone else was eating. I need to start listening to my body more and eating healthier snacks. I also plan to start cooking for myself more as I have a bad habit of eating takeaway too often. Even if I manage to make just lunch or just dinner for the day, that’s a step forward.

5. Exercise. I stopped going to the gym for a long period of time and it really does just make you feel worse about yourself. Whether you want to lose weight or not (you probably don’t need to), exercise is a good way to keep your mind and body active and will allow you to get a better sleep at night. I have decided to go to the gym 3 times a week, whether that be for 20 mins or an hour and a half, my body and mind will thank me for it.

6. Meditate. I thought this sounded silly at first because I couldn’t see how this would work for me. I downloaded the ‘Calm’ and ‘Headspace’ apps and they have been genuine saviours for me. I admittedly paid £35 for the ‘Calm’ app because it has a lot of extra features that I find useful (Ser Bronn of the Blackwater read me to sleep last night for any Game of Thrones lovers out there). Most people find meditation useful at the beginning or during the day but I find that my thoughts are most active at night so I do a quick 10 minute session before I go to bed in the evening. This also stops me from looking at screens straight before bed which often causes my mind to work overtime.

7. Spend time with people. If you’re an introvert this may not be for you and that’s perfectly fine instead spend some time reading or watching your favourite series – just anything you love doing! I know in myself that I am generally not an introverted person and that this side of me has come from my anxiety and low self esteem so in order to get back to my confident, outgoing self, I’m going to make time to see my friends at least twice a week outside of university. As much as I want to be able to love my alone time, I need to start realising that I have friends who love me and that I love to bits and enjoy spending time with.

8. Relax. Try to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to fix yourself up for everyone else’s benefit. Your mental health should always be your priority and the people who love you will always give you the time you need to heal.

I’m not claiming that these things will work for everyone and I also don’t claim to be any kind of expert but hopefully what I’m trying to do for myself will help other people on the path towards a healthier and happier mind.

It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.

Laura x

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