Five Ways to Instantly Boost Self-Esteem

Gold-toned photo of two young adults with long hair hugging in parkSelf-esteem may ebb and flow from day to day and month to month, but there are things we can do to bring our spirits back up—and fairly easily. The following is a short list that can be followed to elicit a rush of oxytocin, our “feel-good” hormone.

  1. Hug your partner or someone you are close with. By hugging your partner, child, best friend, or another person you are close to for 10 seconds or more, you activate the part of your brain that releases oxytocin. This will help you relax and make you feel good. Take a deep breath and relax into the hug. Enjoy the experience and recognize how you feel in the moment. 
  2. Kiss your partner. Engaging in a five-second kiss also releases feel-good hormones. Further, it ignites passion and love for your partner. It’s important to connect with your partner on a daily basis to keep the intimacy going. Make kissing a part of your day.
  3. Give to another. Giving to another person, whether or not he or she is in need, always makes us feel good about ourselves. Give to the person on the side of the street, or lend an ear (or shoulder) to a close friend. Being generous with our time and giving of ourselves is important for well-being. Doing good brings about a sense of community, closeness, and a sense of belonging to something greater than us, and that is what life is about. Notice how you feel when you are being generous.
  4. Be kind to yourself and others. Being kind to yourself may be difficult at times. Give yourself grace when mistakes happen. Allow yourself to forgive. Often, we are forgiving of others, yet we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Don’t punish yourself for things you cannot change and have no control over. Be your own best friend and respond to yourself and others how you would to your best friend. Your esteem will skyrocket.
  5. Erase “should” from your vocabulary. Hindsight is 20/20. We all have regrets about decisions or behaviors we have exhibited. But we cannot change the past and we cannot predict the future; we only have the present. So the only thing we can do is learn from the past and change behaviors in the future. Often, we say to ourselves, “I should have said this or done that,” but this makes us feel shameful, guilty, fearful, and other undue feelings. There is nothing we can do about the things we feel we “should” or “shouldn’t” have done. Let it go and take that word out of your vocabulary. Do better next time knowing that you are better equipped to make a different choice.

The above list can be easily implemented into your everyday life and can have immediate positive effects on your self-esteem. But don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself!

© Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Carolyn Russo, MS, LMHC, therapist in Seattle, Washington

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Joanne


    April 21st, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    So much of this has to be about treating yourself just as kindly as you would other people. We are so much easier on others than we ever are to ourselves and this makes no sense; we are the ones we have to worry about making happy. And I could amost guarantee you that when you are happy, others will naturally be too! That is the sense that they will get from you, and it is naturally contagious.

  • Valerie


    April 21st, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Biggest change I noticed in my life was the word ‘SHOULD’. It’s so refreshing to see a medical professional acknowledge the power of that word! It is not only important to eliminate it in our vocabulary when speaking of ourselves but also when speaking of others. The truth is no one knows what another should do. Change begins with acknowledgement of our own short comings and our willingness to do better. Thank you Dr. Russo for encouraging us in a simple but powerful way!

  • Astrid


    April 21st, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    It always helps to surround yourself with really positive people. I don’t mean people who will lie to you, but people who genuinely think that you are great no matter what you can or can’t give them. There are always going to be the yes men in your life, the people who say the things that they think that you want to hear. But the true friends are the the ones who will stick with you through thick or thin and they will always have something nice to say even when you might be having the worst hair day ever. These are the people that you need to keep close.

  • angela p

    angela p

    April 22nd, 2014 at 3:30 AM

    I would love to erase that hateful word “should” from my vocabulary but that is the word I am always beating myself up with. I should do this, I need to do that, I shouldn’t have done something else… the list seems endless and although it isn’t always that word, it is always some derivation of it. I think that maybe I could be a whole lot happier if I could stop thinking about the things that I should do instead try to focus on that which I actually want to do.

  • Liz


    April 22nd, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    I totally Agree with Astrid. I know that self-Esteem must come from oneselves, but sometimes you need some kind of external help. For example, in my case, being part of “women of connection” group has taught me so many lessons and the people share incredible valuable information towards social and emotional development.

  • Trinity


    April 22nd, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    I try to really hear my husband when he tells me how beautiful and sexy and smart he finds me to be. There have been too many times when I try to get him to stop and I don’t believe what he is saying but I have learned that a man is not going to tell you these things unless he means it, so I have decided that he must really mean it. When I am feeling really critical about myself it is hard to listen and take all of that in in a positive way but it is better for me when I say that he is right and that this is what he sees and what he loves. When I think about it this way then that automaticaally puts a little more pep in my step.

  • Carter


    April 23rd, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    There are times when I hug or kiss my wife and the only sense that I get is that she isn’t enjoying the moment but is instead looking for a way to break the embrace. Is this me or her?

  • johnny


    April 24th, 2014 at 3:38 AM

    I don’t know why but I thought that hugging or kissing my wife would make her feel better not me. But you are right- it does give you that boost that when she responds, all the world is right. She loves me, I love her, and we fit. Sometimes there is no better fix for something than a little affection from someone you love.

  • Colton


    April 26th, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    I’m not sure what it’s all about but there is something about giving back to others that always makes me feel like I am doing something good and that this feeling is so much stronger and more meaningful than what I ever get when I receive something from someone else. There is nothing like that feeling of making someone’s day with a little gift or treat when they least expect it, not because they need anything or because you want anything in return but just because they are special to you and you want to show them how much you apprecaite them being a part of your life. It is those little things that can make the biggest impact on you.

  • Kathleen


    April 26th, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    #4 ought to read, “Erase should have…” Can’t do anything about the past, but the present is different.

  • Paul O. Radde, Ph.D.

    Paul O. Radde, Ph.D.

    April 26th, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    The real issue is unconditional, direct self-acceptance. Self-esteem is simply a symptomatic, surface or peripheral issue. Until we get right down to the central core issue, we are wasting our time and research.

  • Lee


    April 26th, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    And what if you have no-one to do these things for/with?

  • Abc


    October 20th, 2017 at 6:39 PM

    I thought the same. What can help is reflecting on your strengths, whatever they may be. If you find this difficult try to imagine what someone who has cared for you would say to you. Try to open yourself to accepting these as real and valuable. These may be things like you are kind or creative or determined or capable. Self soothing activities help too. Take a warm bath or shower, plant flowers, make a hot drink and sit in the garden..

  • Rose


    April 27th, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    These ideas only made me feel worse because they painfully remind me that I am single with no living family and therefore have no one to hug or kiss. Please remember that there are people that do not have these options for physical contact and who do not have friends that are ‘huggers’.

  • Kerry-Anne


    May 31st, 2014 at 5:20 AM

    Well, twiddling ya thumbs at home hasn’t been working.

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