“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, gosh darn it, people like me.” Turns out a positive mantra like this is no joke. It might even be key to staying stress- and illness-free.
Yep. A recent study revealed that high self-esteem may help dampen the body’s stress response. That in turn can mean less wear and tear on the heart and immune system.
Note to Self: I Rock!
In the study, researchers measured how active the vagus nerve was in signaling the parasympathetic nervous system to slow heart rate. It turned out that people with high self-esteem tended to have a more active vagal signal pathway. And that’s a really positive thing for health, because it’s the opposite of the “fight or flight” stress response that causes so much wear on the body. A “slow down” signal means a calmer, more relaxed body response.
Lessons in Love
So, bottom line, loving yourself more may mean your body is armored against stress. And how, exactly, can you love yourself more? Let us count the ways: For starters, spend lots of time with supportive friends and family members. Research suggests that a supportive social network is good for self-esteem. You can also use positive self-talk to help yourself feel better (really, it works!) And a journal or diary, where you write down your positive qualities and good deeds done, is a great self-esteem-builder as well. If you have trouble getting happy on your own, enlist the help of a therapist, a support group, or a counselor.