4 out of 5 women will experience low self-esteem at some point during her life. Low self-esteem can be attributed to mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and other mood and personality disorders. Yet, many new moms also suffer from low self-esteem, that can range from an annoyance to being completely debilitating. We can blame it on hormones, the appearance of our constantly changing bodies, or that we might have let ourselves go since we no longer have time to look after ourselves.
However, low self-esteem isn't just what we think of our appearance but it affects our overall self-worth, compromising what we value and love within ourselves. There are ways to re-train your brain and negative thought processes, fortunately, that will help you remember the incredible woman who you are!
10 Positive Self-Talk
Even if you don't see it when you look in the mirror at yourself now; you are a beautiful, strong, and resilient momma-bear. Those who love and appreciate you can see just how amazing you are; and you owe it to yourself to see it too. Maybe you can't stand your reflection due to the dark circles under your eyes, your clothes not fitting right, or you are wishing you could be the girl you were before motherhood. You are not alone. Instead of being your own worst critic, positive self-talk can be a powerful tool for improving how you feel about yourself and even your appearance.
When you are hard on yourself for forgetting the diaper bag, not finishing all of your chores, whatever... try adding "and that's okay" to the end of that negative statement. Or when you are picking apart all the flaws you have when you look in the mirror, instead list 3 things you actually do like. If you can't think of anything positive about your appearance, you can list your other attributes instead (like personality traits). Doing activities like this consistently will eventually make it easier to positive self-talk.
9 Acknowledging your strengths and achievements
It can be helpful while on a mental healing journey, to reflect on your past successes and your current skills. By doing so, we can be reminded of our true-selves instead of just focusing on labels such as mother or wife.
When you are a new mom, it can be easy to lose track of what your capabilities are because of having to adjust to a completely new role in your life. Instead of focusing on tasks or things you can't do, write a list of all the things you can do. Even if it's a list you come back to, to read or add more strengths to it; this would be a great way to receive validation when you feel like you are failing elsewhere. Another great visual reminder could be hanging up school diplomas, certificates, or pictures of moments you felt pride within yourself, on your wall or where you know you will see it often.
8 Mindful Affirmations
You are a powerful woman and you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Building yourself up and realizing what you can control helps to build confidence and problem-solving skills. If you believe in your own abilities when faced by a stressful circumstance perhaps caused by motherhood (maybe your newborn had an explosive poop in his diaper, while his older brother decided to start drawing on a wall with a sharpie marker?), you'd be surprised at how great you are at multi-tasking without completely losing it altogether.
Vocalizing out loud mindful affirmations can make you appreciate what you have, as well motivates you to keep moving forward. You can start with statements like, "I am enough" or "I love my body that created my children", or you can write your own. It helps to have a list written down and posted somewhere you will see it, as a reminder to read the affirmations at least once a day. Even if you don't believe those statements now, one day you might... and it's definitely worth trying.
Self-Care cannot be stressed enough when you are a new mom. Your body is still recovering from childbirth, plus add sleep deprivation and constant uncertainty... that is a lot of stress to put on your overall well-being. Self-care may feel difficult to do but your baby deserves her mom at her best physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. If you don't consider your own needs then it will be hard to not become burnt out and self-conscious.
Relaxing, pampering yourself, and doing activities that help to de-stress are important to do AT LEAST 10 to 15 minutes a day, especially if you are constantly running off little sleep. Going to your own doctor and dentist appointments, tending to your own personal hygiene, and doing things that make you feel good about yourself are all important to keep doing as well.
6 Forgive Yourself
Perhaps you may not have been the best person before becoming a mother. We've all made mistakes, behaved unfavourably, and made some wrong choices. The past you, may be affecting how you feel as a new mother. Even though you were the "old you" not long ago, your life drastically changed the moment you became a mother. Having regrets keep you in the past, which inhibits your ability to move forward.
In order to truly love yourself, you have to let go of your past guilt and forgive yourself. After all, you are only human. Whatever unhealthy behavioural patterns you adapted to back then, was apart of your personal growth. Whatever mistakes you will make in the future is apart of that as well. Being self-aware yet kind to yourself can even teach your children emotional intelligence and how to build themselves up even when they make faults.
5 Reduce Stress
Being a new mom is stressful enough, so it helps to take unnecessary stressors off of your plate. Focus on what you are in control of, instead of those things you cannot change. Prioritizing what areas you put your energy on, will distract you from the things that don't really matter.
This isn't saying to avoid everything that stresses you out but to limit how many tasks need to be completed. Being assertive enough to say NO acknowledges your own values, which increases your self-esteem and worth. When we are stressed, we can let our emotions get the best of us, and sometimes take how we are feeling out on those we love most. Some stress may be unavoidable, however, with fewer things piling up it gives us more chances to practice self-care.
4 Live Healthily
There is a common yet true cliché you may have heard, "look good... feel good." This can be a hard statement for a new mom to hear because, at this moment, she may feel neither. Granted, you won't lose that baby belly overnight, but that isn't saying you will never get back to your pre-pregnancy weight either.
Your body is amazing. You just carried a baby for 40-weeks, and those stretch marks and stretchy skin are your proof of that accomplishment. Taking care of your body by drinking water and eating healthily, can not only help you lose weight but give you a natural boost of nourishment needed to feel (and look) better! The more you care about what goes into your "work-in-progress", the better you'll feel when you start to fit back into those tight skinny jeans.
3 Make a Plan
Motherhood can be so consuming, in the best of ways yet other times not so much. Of course, we put ourselves last because we are so focused on giving our children everything we can. However, always putting yourself last can be detrimental to your self-esteem. Without having structure and goals, that can make you feel unfulfilled with just being a mom. Who says you can't be a supermom and obtain all of your life's ambitions?
Making plans can give you direction to your life. Goal setting is important because it keeps you present in the steps that are needed to be taken now, to eventually get to that end destination. When you consider what you need to do to provide for yourself financially, intellectually, and holistically, this can cause great gains in the perspective of yourself.
Physical Activity has been shown to release feel-good hormones and chemicals in our brain, thus bringing up our mood and productivity. Many new moms find it beneficial to exercise every day, to not only feel happier but heal faster.
Getting outside once a day to go for a walk can also break up the monotony of being home every day with a baby. The fresh air will allow you to have more restful periods of sleep (in between night feedings, of course) and can provide time to socialize with adults admiring your baby. Exercising doesn't always have to be lifting weights; pick an exercise you already enjoy doing.
1 Love Yourself
It may be difficult to love yourself based on the perception, an idea, you feel like you have to measure up to. We judge others harshly when we feel inadequate about ourselves. The perception of what you feel like you are lacking as a mother or a woman can permanently damage the ability to love yourself.
Change that perception to a perspective. A positive perspective, an attitude or way of viewing life, can make it easier to be kind to yourself. Everyone, including you, is trying their best with what they have. Having an empathetic perspective makes it easier to find features instead of the flaws of yourself and others around you. Appreciate everything that makes you, you.