The concept of self-esteem is one usually misunderstood or vaguely known in its entirety, this is mainly related to how ambiguous it is, and how we, as a society gave him traits that are not necessarily related to It. This is particularly problematic when we need attending ourselves, in times of anxiety or simply when we think that we think we are not giving ourselves enough worth. In addition to that, times like ours, were a pandemic has forced us to stay home, and in a constant state of alert, It is easy to feel that our goals for the future have radically stagnated, that we are not doing enough, and on top of that, we are constantly bombarded with news that only contribute to fuel our anxiety through. Fear of loosing people around us, of being ourselves victims of this situation, in summary, we are truly scared for our future and the one of our closest people. Through this article we would give a general perspective of what self-esteem is, when we should see a specialist, and how to deal better with the effects of the pandemic in our mental health.
From a general perspective, self-esteem can be defined as an individual’s evaluation of its own worth, this is, how the person perceives itself, either on a good light or as someone unworthy of a variety of things. Smith and Mackie define self-esteem as “what we think about the self; self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it”. Under this conceptualization of self-esteem, someone with low self-esteem is someone that considers itself unworthy and/or unsuccessful in its own perspective, this, in the long-term has negative effects in the mental wellbeing of the person, and its relationships with people; affecting their everyday situations. Some signs that might indicate you are suffering from a low self-esteem could be:
- A constant feeling of not being worth of receiving a good treatment and compassion.
- While doing tasks, there is a perception that no matter what, you will fail.
- Interacting with others becomes difficult, social anxiety is constant, and you find very complicated and uncomfortable to open up to others in fear of what they might think about you.
- Because you consider yourself unworthy, you allow people to cross boundaries that in a normal situation would be seen as “too far”.
As we mentioned before, the coronavirus pandemic has dangerously increased the amount of stress experienced by population, and specialist point out that a constant state of lockdown might derive into a global mental health crisis as a result of coronavirus. Different factors are involved; in the case of women, the most affected, a survey conducted by Population Foundation in India, increased workload at home, family pressure, and lack of access to sanitary resources are the main contributing factors. The same survey revealed that at least nine out of ten people seek for counseling during the pandemic, alongside, a steep increase in the amount of people reporting suffering from any kind of depression. The most common symptoms reported were: lack of pleasure in doing things, love for, little or no hope for the future, erratic sleep cycles, bad eating habits, low energy, and particularly low self-esteem.
As we mentioned early, the signs of low self-esteem are related to how we perceive ourselves, nevertheless, due to the constant stagnation caused by the pandemic, we might confuse these symptoms with those related to boredom and even with depression. As a general rule, we should always contact a therapist whenever we feel that our behavior has shifted away from its usual pace, nevertheless, sometimes the changes are so gradual that is difficult for us to correctly identify them. Some of the warning signs that indicate that you might need to seek for psychological health are the following:
- There is a constant sense of feeling overwhelmed, angry, ignored by the rest, or being taken advantage by the people around you or your partner.
- In the last weeks you have experienced sudden mood swings
- You suffer from difficulty to either start or complete tasks and/or routine in general; this can be at work, school, or just self-care.
- Recently, you have felt alone, lost, and you can’t find ways to help yourself.
- You constantly try to change yourself in order to fix or do what you consider right from what people say, in order for them to like you or agree with you, even if this is against your own will.
As It is noticeable, most of these symptoms are hard to notice at first glance, and/or difficult to self-diagnose. In that case, we would recommend to ask your relatives or a close friend if they have noticed mood swings in the last weeks, or to your co-workers, if they have felt you have not been as efficient as always. At the same time, being constantly aware of how we behave in front of other people is important to notice if we are acting according to our will, or we are inadvertently “adjusting” how we behave for people to like us. We know that checking on ourselves can be very exhausting, yet, it is important to mention that mental health is as important as our physical health, and one can be affected by the other as they are not “separate beings”.
Even though we have provided a general overview of self-esteem, how to identify when we are not aware of a low self-esteem, and the effects of pandemic in our mental health, we must insist that this is not a guide for diagnosis, but just a brief summary and signs of warning. We would recommend those readers that think there is something wrong with how they perceive themselves to attend to a certified psychologist and ask for diagnosis and orientation. Self-diagnosis is dangerous, and we highly discourage It. As we mentioned, mental health is just as important as your physical health, and we should treat It in the same way and pay as much attention for both.