Raising low self-esteem — NHS

Raising low self-esteem

We all have times when we lack confidence and do not feel good about ourselves.

But when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can have a harmful effect on our mental health and our day-to-day lives.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.

When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life’s ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.

What causes low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves.

For some reason, the message that you are not good enough is the one that stays with you.

Perhaps you found it difficult to live up to other people’s expectations of you, or to your own expectations.

Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement, can have a negative effect on self-esteem.

Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves.

How does low self-esteem affect us?

If you have low self-esteem or confidence, you may hide yourself away from social situations, stop trying new things, and avoid things you find challenging.

In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations might make you feel safe.

In the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things.

Living with low self-esteem can harm your mental health and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.

You may also develop unhelpful habits, such as smoking and drinking too much, as a way of coping.

How to have healthy self-esteem

To boost your self-esteem, you need to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself, then challenge them.

You may tell yourself you’re «too stupid» to apply for a new job, for example, or that «nobody cares» about you.

Start to note these negative thoughts and write them on a piece of paper or in a diary. Ask yourself when you first started to think these thoughts.

Next, start to write some evidence that challenges these negative beliefs, such as, «I’m really good at cryptic crosswords» or «My sister calls for a chat every week».

Write down other positive things about yourself, such as «I’m thoughtful» or «I’m a great cook» or «I’m someone that others trust».

Also write some good things that other people say about you.

Aim to have at least 5 positive things on your list and add to it regularly. Then put your list somewhere you can see it. That way, you can keep reminding yourself that you’re OK.

You might have low confidence now because of what happened when you were growing up, but we can grow and develop new ways of seeing ourselves at any age.

Other ways to improve low self-esteem

Here are some other simple techniques that may help you feel better about yourself.

Recognise what you’re good at

We’re all good at something, whether it’s cooking, singing, doing puzzles or being a friend. We also tend to enjoy doing the things we’re good at, which can help boost your mood.

Build positive relationships

If you find certain people tend to bring you down, try to spend less time with them, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions.

Try to build relationships with people who are positive and who appreciate you.

Be kind to yourself

Being kind to yourself means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical.

Think what you’d say to a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.

Learn to be assertive

Being assertive is about respecting other people’s opinions and needs, and expecting the same from them.

One trick is to look at other people who act assertively and copy what they do.

It’s not about pretending you’re someone you’re not. It’s picking up hints and tips from people you admire and letting the real you come out.

Start saying «no»

People with low self-esteem often feel they have to say yes to other people, even when they do not really want to.

The risk is that you become overburdened, resentful, angry and depressed.

For the most part, saying no does not upset relationships. It can be helpful to keep saying no, but in different ways, until they get the message.

Give yourself a challenge

We all feel nervous or afraid to do things at times. But people with healthy self-esteem do not let these feelings stop them trying new things or taking on challenges.

Set yourself a goal, such as joining an exercise class or going to a social occasion. Achieving your goals will help to increase your self-esteem.

Where to find help for low self-esteem

You can refer yourself for psychological therapies on the NHS.

If you prefer, you can talk to a GP first and they can refer you.

You could also find a private therapist. Make sure they’re registered with a professional body.

Listen to podcast about tackling unhelpful thinking.

You can find mental health apps and tools in the NHS apps library.

Page last reviewed: 6 February 2020
Next review due: 6 February 2023



noun, plural big·ot·ries.



Origin of bigotry


Words nearby bigotry

Words related to bigotry

Example sentences from the Web for bigotry

It needs to be said: bigotry in the name of religion is still bigotry ; child abuse wrapped in a Bible verse is still child abuse.

No more allowing people to justify their bigotry by spouting a cherry-picked Bible verse.

Regarding Muslims, we have clearly seen in recent times an uptick in anti—Muslim bigotry .

Meanwhile advocacy groups like GLAAD help rid our larger culture of hidden biases and bigotry .

Many are unwilling to admit that bigotry has entered the mainstream.

By the turn of the first century bigotry was distinctly weakened.

But the nettlerash produced by Mrs Bowater’s bigotry was not to be so easily allayed as all that.

Pluck from the tree of any life these flowers, and there remain but the barren thorns of bigotry and creed.

A fierce uproar ensued, and the denouncer of bigotry was compelled to be silent.

This tone of feeling is the offspring of enlightenment, the enemy of bigotry .

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Origin of proactive



Words nearby proactive

Words related to proactive

Example sentences from the Web for proactive

These are reactive, not proactive , stances, and they do little to offer substantive solutions.

There seems to be a proactive disregard for knowing or caring about their lives and plight.

Without a dedicated and proactive rescue force, campaigners fear, the death toll in the Mediterranean will skyrocket.

Just as there are clear upsides to these types of proactive efforts in the corporate sector, there are downsides to not doing so.

I moved on to Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in California, to develop and implement a proactive counseling program.

So one cannot say that law, as opposed to politics, is not proactive .






(v. kəmˈbæt, ˈkɒm bæt; n. ˈkɒm bæt)


battle royal A free-for-all; an encounter of many combatants; a heated argument or altercation. The term derives from the type of endurance contest, especially common in cockfighting, in which the ultimate victor is determined by a process of elimination through survival of many trial heats. The badly wounded survivor of these repeated pairings is often barely alive at battle’s close. Another type of battle royal from which the expression might derive was the custom of entering a number of pugilists into the ring at once, who fought each other in random and brutal fashion until only one remained conscious. Ralph Ellison includes a graphic description of the barbarous practice in Invisible Man.

broach [someone’s] claret To give someone a bloody nose. This euphemistically elegant expression for a very inelegant action and its result plays on the meaning of broach ‘to draw liquor from a cask’ and on claret as a red wine of Bordeaux.

donnybrook A wild fight or brawl, a melee or free-for-all; also Donnybrook Fair. For centuries, an annual two-week fair was held each summer in Donnybrook, Ireland. Invariably, vast amounts of whiskey were consumed and the huge crowds got out of control, turning the fair into a massive drunken brawl. Because of such consistently riotous behavior, the Donnybrook Fair was abolished in 1855, although to this day its name denotes any type of wild, general fighting.

fight like Kilkenny cats To fight fiercely and bitterly until both sides have been destroyed; to argue or debate viciously and with determination. Several marginally plausible legends surround this expression, the most popular of which holds that in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, some sadistic soldiers stationed in Kilkenny enjoyed the “sport” of tying two cats together by their tails and hanging them over a clothesline so that, face to face, they would fight to the death. When an officer approached to break up this daily activity, a soldier cut off the cats’ tails with his sword, and the cats escaped. When confronted by the officer, the soldier insisted that the cats had fought so viciously that they had eaten each other, leaving only the tails behind. A more likely explanation, however, is that the cats are allegorical symbols for two rival towns, Kilkenny and Irishtown, which for more than 300 years waged a bitter border dispute. By 1700, both towns were devastated and impoverished. A similar expression is as quarrelsome as Kilkenny cats.

introduce the shoemaker to the tailor To kick someone in the buttocks or rear end; to kick someone in the pants. This euphemism is a British colloquial expression.

knock galley-west To incapacitate, to put someone out of action; to give such a severe blow as to cause unconsciousness; to knock for a loop, to throw off balance, to disorient or confuse. Galley-west is an alteration of the British dialectal colly-west ‘awry, askew.’ This colloquial Americanism dates from the latter part of the 19th century. The phrase is not limited in application to physical combat; it can also apply to mental or emotional disorientation resulting from the debunking of one’s ideas, arguments, or beliefs.

Your verdict has knocked what little [critical penetration] I did have galley-west! (Mark Twain, Letters, 1875)

knock the tar out of To thrash, whale, or beat senseless; also often beat the tar out of. The precise origin of the phrase is unknown. A plausible conjecture says it derives from the former practice of caulking a ship’s bottom with tar, which would require an extremely severe shock or blow to loosen.

lead a cat and dog life To fight or bicker constantly; to be contentious, quarrelsome, or argumentative on a regular basis. This expression alludes to the snapping and vicious battling associated with these two animals whenever they encounter each other.

lock horns To enter into conflict; to clash; to contend. Various species of mammals have horns for self-defense, and the reference is probably to the locking of bucks’ horns when they “duel.” The expression suggests a vehement entanglement between two people.

make [someone] see stars To hit someone on the head with such force that he experiences the illusion of brilliant spots of light before his eyes; to knock someone out.

make the fur fly To cause a ruckus or commotion, to create a disturbance, to shake things up; also make the feathers fly. The allusion is to animals or gamecocks engaged in such a violent struggle that they tear out each other’s fur or feathers. Both expressions date from at least the 19th century.

Al Hayman is going to make the fur fly when he gets back from Europe. (New York Dramatic News, July, 1896)

measure swords To fight or do battle either physically or verbally; to compete or contest, to match wits with, to pit one’s strength against. This expression originated when dueling was the gentlemanly method of settling disputes and defending honor. Swords chosen as weapons were measured against each other to guarantee that they were of the same length and that neither party had an advantage. Although measuring swords was originally a preliminary to a duel or fight, by extension it came to mean the fighting itself. The equivalent French expression is mesurer les épées. Shakespeare uses the phrase in As You Like It (V, iv):

And so we measured swords and parted.

pull caps To quarrel and wrangle in an undignified manner. Cap refers to ‘headgear.’

Our lofty Duchesses pull caps, And give each other’s reputation raps.

(Thomas Perronet Thompson, Exercises, Political and Others, 1842)

This obsolete expression dating from the 18th century reputedly applied only to women, although OED citations indicate that men also “pulled caps.”

Men are exhorted to struggle and pull caps. (John Wolcott, Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians, 1785)

take up the hatchet To begin or resume fighting, to prepare for war; also dig up or unbury the hatchet, ax, or tomahawk. To symbolize the resumption of hostilities, North American Indians would dig up war weapons, which had been buried as a sign of good faith when concluding a peace.

Three nations of French Indians … had taken up the hatchet against the English. (George Washington, Daily Journal in 1751-52)

The expression, now obsolete, dates from the late 1600s. See also bury the hatchet, PEACE.

tan [someone’s] hide To whip, beat, or thrash soundly; to knock the tar out of someone. Theoretically, severe, repeated beatings would harden or toughen one’s skin, just as the tanning process does to hide in converting it to leather. The expression has been used in this figurative sense since the 17th century.

wigs on the green A fight, altercation, fracas, fray; a commotion; a difference of opinion that could lead to fisticuffs. This expression stems from the days when British gentlemen wore powdered wigs and often settled differences “in manly fashion” on the public greens. Since their wigs were likely to be pulled off during the pugilistics, wigs on the green became a euphemistic reference to a scuffle or brawl.

Whenever they saw them advancing, they felt that there would be wigs on the green. (Sir Montagu Gerard, Leaves From the Diaries of a Soldier and Sportsman, 1903)


Past participle: combated
Gerund: combating


Nailtails: description and means to combat them

A coma is a state of unconsciousness where a person is unresponsive and cannot be woken.

It can result from injury to the brain, such as a severe head injury or stroke. A coma can also be caused by severe alcohol poisoning or a brain infection (encephalitis).

People with diabetes could fall into a coma if their blood glucose levels suddenly became very low (hypoglycaemia) or very high (hyperglycaemia).

You may find the following information useful if you have a friend or loved one who is in a coma.

What is a coma?

Someone who is in a coma is unconscious and has minimal brain activity. They’re alive but can’t be woken up and show no signs of awareness.

The person’s eyes will be closed and they’ll appear to be unresponsive to their environment. They won’t normally respond to sound or pain, or be able to communicate or move voluntarily, and basic reflexes, such as coughing and swallowing, will be greatly reduced.

They may be able to breathe on their own, although some people require a machine to help them breathe.

Over time, the person may start to gradually regain consciousness and become more aware. Some people will wake up after a few weeks, while others may go into a vegetative or minimally conscious state (see recovering from a coma).

Caring for and monitoring a person in a coma

Doctors assess a person’s level of consciousness using a tool called the Glasgow Coma Scale. This level is monitored constantly for signs of improvement or deterioration. The Glasgow Coma Scale assesses three things:

  • eye opening – a score of 1 means no eye opening, and 4 means opens eyes spontaneously
  • verbal response to a command – a score of 1 means no response, and 5 means alert and talking
  • voluntary movements in response to a command – a score of 1 means no response, and 6 means obeys commands

Most people in a coma will have a total score of 8 or less. A lower score means someone may have experienced more severe brain damage and could be less likely to recover.

In the short term, a person in a coma will normally be looked after in an intensive care unit (ICU). Treatment involves ensuring their condition is stable and body functions, such as breathing and blood pressure, are supported while the underlying cause is treated.

In the longer term, healthcare staff will give supportive treatment on a hospital ward. This can involve providing nutrition, trying to prevent infections, moving the person regularly so they don’t develop bedsores and gently exercising their joints to stop them becoming tight.

What you can do as a visitor

The experience of being in a coma differs from person to person. Some people feel they can remember events that happened around them while they were in a coma, while others don’t.

Some people have reported feeling enormous reassurance from the presence of a loved one when coming out of a coma.

When visiting a friend or loved one in a coma, you may find this advice helpful:

  • when you arrive, announce who you are
  • talk to them about your day as you normally would – be aware that everything you say in front of them might be heard
  • show them your love and support – even just sitting and holding their hand or stroking their skin can be a great comfort

Research has also suggested that stimulating the main senses – touch, hearing, vision and smell – could potentially help a person recover from a coma.

As well as talking to the person and holding their hand, you might want to try playing them their favourite music through headphones, putting flowers in their room or spraying a favourite perfume.

Recovering from a coma

A coma usually only lasts a few weeks, during which time the person may start to gradually wake up and gain consciousness, or progress into a different state of unconsciousness called a vegetative state or minimally conscious state.

  • a vegetative state – where a person is awake but shows no signs of being aware of their surroundings or themselves
  • a minimally conscious state – where a person has limited awareness that comes and goes

Some people may recover from these states gradually, while others may not improve for years, if at all. See the page on disorders of consciousness for more information about these conditions.

People who do wake up from a coma usually come round gradually. They may be very agitated and confused to begin with.

Some people will make a full recovery and be completely unaffected by the coma. Others will have disabilities caused by the damage to their brain. They may need physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological assessment and support during a period of rehabilitation, and may need care for the rest of their lives.

The chances of someone recovering from a coma largely depend on the severity and cause of their brain injury, their age and how long they’ve been in a coma. But it’s impossible to accurately predict whether the person will eventually recover, how long the coma will last and whether they’ll have any long-term problems.

Further information and support

For further information and support from healthcare professionals and the families of people in a coma, you may find the following websites helpful:

  • Brain and Spine Foundation
  • Headway – the brain injury association
  • ICUsteps – the intensive care patient support charity

Page last reviewed: 14 June 2018
Next review due: 14 June 2021




Malnutrition is frequently part of a vicious cycle that includes poverty and disease. These three factors are interlinked in such a way that each contributes to the presence and permanence of the others. Socioeconomic and political changes that improve health and nutrition can break the cycle; as can specific nutrition and health interventions. The WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition seeks to contribute to the transformation of this cycle of poverty, malnutrition and disease into a virtuous one of wealth, growth and health.

Malnutrition usually refers to a number of diseases, each with a specific cause related to one or more nutrients, for example protein, iodine, vitamin A or iron. In the present context malnutrition is synonymous with protein-energy malnutrition, which signifies an imbalance between the supply of protein and energy and the body’s demand for them to ensure optimal growth and function. This imbalance includes both inadequate and excessive energy intake; the former leading to malnutrition in the form of wasting, stunting and underweight, and the latter resulting in overweight and obesity.

Malnutrition in children is the consequence of a range of factors, that are often related to poor food quality, insufficient food intake, and severe and repeated infectious diseases, or frequently some combinations of the three. These conditions, in turn, are closely linked to the overall standard of living and whether a population can meet its basic needs, such as access to food, housing and health care. Growth assessment thus not only serves as a means for evaluating the health and nutritional status of children but also provides an indirect measurement of the quality of life of an entire population.

The WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition illustrates malnutrition’s enormous challenge and provides decision-makers and health workers alike with the baseline information necessary to plan, implement, and monitor and evaluate nutrition and public health intervention programmes aimed at promoting healthy growth and development. Since the Global Database is a dynamic surveillance system and new information is continually being collected, screened and entered, data collection can never be considered complete. Despite the considerable effort made to compile all available information, gaps in knowledge are inevitable. Users are therefore encouraged to send additional information to the following address:

WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition World Health Organization/Department of Nutrition for Health and Development CH — 1211 Geneva 27


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Disabuse means to free someone of a belief that is not true. Many teachers of health find that when they teach, they spend as much energy disabusing kids of false beliefs as they do giving them the facts.

Disabuse is often connected to the word notion or idea. In singing lessons, you must disabuse young singers of the idea that they can sing better by singing louder. In the first year of college, many people are disabused of the notion that their experiences are universal — by meeting so many people who have had different experiences or come from different backgrounds.

Choose your words

Caught between words? Learn how to make the right choice.

Something contemptible is worthy of scorn, like the contemptible jerk who’s mean to your sister; but contemptuous is full of it, like the contemptuous look you give that guy as he speeds away in his gas guzzler.
read more.

Something historic has a great importance to human history. Something historical is related to the past. People with big egos get them mixed up if they say they had a historic family background. Unless they helped win a war, it was probably just historical.
read more.

Going somewhere? Emigrate means to leave one’s country to live in another. Immigrate is to come into another country to live permanently. Migrate is to move, like birds in the winter.
read more.

The verbs lay and lie are total jerks. People often say lay when they mean lie, but it’s wrong to lay around. You have to lay something, anything — lay an egg if you want. But you can lie around until the cows come home! read more.

Bad guys don’t like these words because they often describe jail terms: concurrent means at the same time, and consecutive means one after the other in a series. Con artists would rather serve concurrent terms and get them over with, instead of consecutive ones. read more.

You’re is short for «you are» and your shows ownership. If you’re getting them mixed up, your secret is safe with us. Better yet, here’s help! It’s your secret. And now you’re about to know more. See? read more.


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