PCOS and Self Esteem – How to Boost Confidence When You Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Low self-esteem is something everyone grapples with from time-to-time, however, it’s particularly prevalent in people with PCOS.
Studies have found that low self-esteem, eating disorders, and psychological distress are all more common in people who have PCOS than those who don’t. In fact, the overall consensus is that people with PCOS are in urgent need of psychological support.
There are a number of reasons people with PCOS could be more susceptible to low self-esteem, including the trauma of living with some of the symptoms that come as a result. Hirsutism, menstrual irregularity, and infertility, for example, have all been identified as the most distressing symptoms of PCOS. No surprises here.
The question is, what can you do to boost your confidence if you struggle with low self-esteem? Keep reading…
PCOS and Self Esteem – 7 Ways to Boost Confidence When You Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
1. Consider what you love about yourself
Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to muster up self love – we know. And that’s OK. But, during times when your self-esteem is suffering, it can help to highlight qualities you like (or at least feel neutral towards) to give yourself a bit of a boost.
Head to your Notes app (or grab your journal) and jot down a few things you love, like, or simply accept about yourself. These could include physical features (‘I love that my eyes look gold in sunlight’), talents (‘I can bake mean brownies and I like that about myself’), personality traits and quirks (‘I love that I make myself laugh’), achievements, kind gestures, and so on. If you’re not yet ready to use words like “love,” then try replacing it with “accept” for a while.
Give it a go, and see how you get on.
2. Treat yourself the same way you would a loved one
Serious question – would you talk to your best friend the same way you talk to yourself? We’re going to guess that you wouldn’t dare. In fact, you’d probably do the exact opposite – you’d hype them up, reassure them, and show them endless compassion.
We’re here to tell you that you deserve that same love and compassion from yourself, so, try giving it a go. Whenever a judgemental, self-deprecating thought arises, practice responding as though you’re speaking to somebody you love – what words of reassurance would you offer them? If you can speak those words aloud to yourself in front of a mirror, great! If that feels too cringy, try journalling or writing a note to yourself.
3. Surround yourself with loving, supportive people
Perhaps it’s obvious, but we’ll say it anyway: surrounding yourself with loving, supportive, and compassionate people is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and mental wellbeing.
In fact, your social circle has such a huge impact on your wellbeing, research confirms that your connections could directly link to your life expectancy. One study found that people who lack social connections have a 50% higher chance of dying prematurely than those who have a solid network.
Take a moment to consider which people you feel the most comfortable around and the most supported by. If you don’t yet have a loving social circle and you’re looking to meet more like-minded people, join The PCOS Collective – a network of Cysters on Facebook.
4. Reduce your exposure to people and situations that negatively affect your self-esteem
It’s OK – great, even – to set boundaries to protect your wellbeing.
Pay attention to your mood and your internal dialogue when you’re around other people – do you speak kindly to yourself, or do you talk down to yourself? Do you feel good about yourself, or does your confidence dip?
Try to reduce the time you spend around people who have a negative impact on your self-esteem, and remove yourself from situations that cause your confidence to crash (these could involve nights out where friends “banter” after a few too many drinks, or work gatherings which involve mixing with people who don’t share your values, for instance). It’s not always easy setting boundaries – particularly with people you love – but it’s worth it to take care of your mental wellbeing.
5. Steer clear of comparison
You know as well as we do that comparison only serves to make you feel sucky about yourself and your situation. Yet, it’s an easy trap to fall into – particularly when we’ve become accustomed to seeing everyone else’s highlights reel on social media everyday – and it can be debilitating for mental health.
One study, which looked into the psychological impact of comparison on social networking sites unsurprisingly found that social comparison does, indeed, negatively affect mental wellbeing. Not cool.
If you often find you get caught up comparing yourself and your life to others’ whilst using social media, consider unfollowing (or muting, if the former feels a little too aggressive) the accounts that trigger your feelings of comparison. Instead, search for creators sharing content that you can relate to, and that helps you feel seen.
6. Engage in activities that make you feel good
Take a moment to think about what you’re doing when you’re at your happiest. Are you creating, or moving your body in some way? Learning, socialising, or resting? Whatever it is, try to make space for your favourite activities as often as possible.
On the one hand, if your favourite activity happens to be something you're also very talented at, then that in itself will give you a little confidence boost. But, a reminder, you don’t need to be “good” at your hobbies. The beauty of having a hobby is that it has the ability to calm your thoughts, bring you back to the present moment, and focus on the task in front of you. Give it a go.
7. Ask for help
Sometimes, despite our best attempts, mindful activities and proclamations of self-love just aren’t enough to boost self-esteem significantly enough. We all experience dips in our confidence from time-to-time, but if you find that low self-esteem is interfering with your ability to live an enjoyable life, then there’s no shame in reaching out for help.
Talk to your GP about any symptoms that you think may be linked to your low confidence – they may advise trying out a new treatment – and consider seeking mental health support, too.
Open up to your friends and family, if you feel comfortable doing so, and try to build a support system that you can turn to in times of need. If you don’t yet have a network of Cysters, you can join ours on Facebook.