Gambling Awareness Project Sheffield

What is Self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It's based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can feel difficult to change. We might also think of this as self-confidence. Researchers have found that having low self-esteem can increase the risk of gambling-related harms whereas high self-esteem can protect against those harms.  

Your self-esteem can affect whether you:

  • Like and value yourself as a person
  • Can make decisions and assert yourself
  • Recognise your strengths
  • Feel able to try new or difficult things
  • Show kindness towards yourself
  • Move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
  • Take the time you need for yourself
  • Believe you matter and are good enough
  • Believe you deserve happiness

How can I improve my self-esteem?

Some people find these ideas useful, but remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with.

Be kind to yourself

  • Get to know yourself. For example, what makes you happy and what you value in life. You might find it helpful to write this in a journal.
  • Try to challenge unkind thoughts about yourself. You might automatically put yourself down. If you find yourself doing this, it can help to ask: "Would I talk to a friend in this way?"
  • Say positive things to yourself. Some people like to do this in front of a mirror. It can feel strange at first, but you may feel more comfortable the more you do it.
  • Practise saying no. Being assertive can be difficult if you're not used to it. But agreeing to too many things to please others can be draining. It could help to pause, take a breath and think about how you feel before agreeing to do something you don't want to.
  • Try to avoid comparing yourself to others. For example, it might help to limit how much time you spend on social media or online communities. What other people often choose to share about their lives isn't always the full picture.
  • Do something nice for yourself. For example, making your favourite meal or playing a game you enjoy.


Try to recognise positives

  • Celebrate your successes. No matter how small they may seem, take time to praise yourself. For example, this could be getting outside for a walk or doing some tidying. 
  • Accept compliments. You could save them up to look over when you're feeling low or doubting yourself.
  • Ask people what they like about you, if you feel comfortable. They may recognise things that you don't think about yourself.
  • Write a list of things you like about yourself. For example, this could be a skill that you've learnt, or something you do to help other people. 

Build a support network

  • Talk to someone you trust. Having someone listen to you and show they care can help. If you aren't able to open up to someone close to you, you could call a helpline to speak to someone anonymously. For example, you could call Samaritans on 116 123.
  • Focus on positive relationships. It might feel difficult to control who you spend time with. But where possible, it can help to spend more time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Try peer support. Making connections with people who have similar or shared experiences can help. 

Set yourself a challenge

  • Try volunteering. You might decide to volunteer your time for something you feel passionate about. For more information on volunteering, see the Volunteer by Do-IT website.
  • Set small goals. This could help things feel more manageable, and give you a greater sense of achievement. 
  • Learn something new. For example, this could be trying a new hobby or creative activity. Or taking time to read a book about a new subject.

Look after yourself

  • Try to get enough sleep. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a negative impact on how you feel. 
  • Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. 
  • Try to do some physical activity. Being active can help your mental wellbeing. This may include helping to improve your self-esteem. 
  • Spend time outside. Being in green space can often help how you feel. 
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation. For example, you could try Headspace's meditation course for self-esteem
  • Try to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol. You might want to use recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings about yourself. But in the long run they can make you feel worse and can prevent you from dealing with underlying problems.