By Bev Bachel
What gradually increases during our late teens and begins to decline after age 60?
Our self-esteem, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (Bone mass, too, but that’s another blog post.)
However, there are many ways we can boost our self-esteem, even during retirement when we no longer have the status associated with our careers. Mental health author Judith Belmont who wrote A Year of Care: Daily Practices and Inspiration for Embracing Your Worth offers six helpful tips:
1: Start the day off right. “Begin each day with words of wisdom or an inspirational quote,” says Belmont. “Doing so will help you stay positive.” You might even want to give this miracle-morning routine a try. It features six practices: silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading and writing.
2: Choose a growth mindset. “Don’t define yourself by your imperfections but by your efforts to overcome them,” advises Belmont. To help cultivate a growth mindset, embrace positive self-talk. Instead of saying “I can’t believe I screwed up again,” try “I learned a lot this time so I’ll do it better and more quickly next time.”
3: Focus on the whole, not the hole. When you picture your favorite bagel or donut, do you see what you have or only what isn’t there (the hole in the middle)? Being aware of what’s missing is important, but if you pay it too much attention, you’ll struggle to feel motivated and may never even get started.
4: Develop a self-care ritual. Such rituals can be as simple as jotting down an intention for the day, maintaining a stretching routine or spending time outdoors, an activity research shows improves both health and happiness.
5: Reflect and forgive. “Forgiving ourselves and others can be difficult, but it’s one of the most important gifts we can give,” says Belmont. However, rather than “forgive and forget,” she advises that we:
- Reflect on our feelings, including feelings of sadness, bitterness and betrayal.
- Acknowledge the harm we may have caused.
- Try to understand what prompts us, and those we interact with, to act the way we do.
- Let go of resentment.
6: Write yourself a love letter. “When we think of sending love letters, we typically think of sending them to someone else,” says Belmont. “However, the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself, so spend some time writing about why you are lovable.” (And, with the love you have left, write a letter to someone else. The World Needs More Love Letters makes it easy.)
Though we may no longer have our careers, we can continue to feed our self-esteem, no matter our age.
Bev Bachel is a Minneapolis freelance writer who is working to boost her own self-esteem as well as that of family, friends and colleagues. She’s also the author of What Do You Really Want: How to Set a Goal and Go for It! A Guide for Teens.