Whether you have or know someone with PCOS, you will most likely be well aware of the impact some PCOS side effects can have on women. Unexplainable weight gain, patchy skin, irregular/painful periods, dry brittle hair that falls like it’s bloody autumn are just a handful of the PCOS symptoms that can damage your self-esteem. Trust me, I’m an expert in this department!
But I’m here to tell you that whilst this may be a rough ride, there are ways you can reclaim your confidence and get back that ‘get-up-and-go’ feeling. In today’s blog, we explore a few ways to boost your self-esteem and be that confident woman you always wanted to be.
What is self-esteem?
Before we begin, we need to first know what self-esteem is. I majored in Psychology back in university and this topic was one of my personal favourites because it was #sorelatable at that time. Anyway, self-esteem underpins your overall sense of self-worth and personal value. In simpler terms, it’s a measure of how much you like and respect yourself. Say for instance, if you have healthy self-esteem, you’re likely to think of yourself in a more positive light and value your achievements to a higher standard than someone with lower self-esteem. Having low self-esteem often means you are overly critical and negative towards yourself, focussing largely on your shortcomings and mistakes. That was basically Me, Negative-Nancy-Narin. I’m glad I have come a longgg way from those dark days, phew!
The correlation between
PCOS and low self-esteem
Let’s get a little technical.
Now, with all the physical and emotional implications that often come along with PCOS, it is easy to understand the link between PCOS and low self-esteem. One major symptom that a lot of women with PCOS struggle with is infertility. It’s a pretty touchy subject for some women who have probably spent countless hours at the doctors just trying to fall pregnant, but never had any successful outcome. Some women in Asia particularly get emotionally scarred from all the unnecessary comments from their families, which often lead them to blame themselves for not being able to bear children. So what follows? Feelings of emptiness, disappointment, depression, isolation and of course, low self-esteem.
Another common physical side effect that affects women with PCOS is weight gain. I can’t tell you how many DMs I have gotten from young girls and ladies who share their weight gain stories with me. What baffles me is the torment and ridicule they face from people around them for gaining weight! I empathise with these women not only because I go through it myself, also because some of them come from really bad situations and probably don’t even know something is not going right in their bodies. I mean, going through all that for years with absolutely no support system? Let that thought sink in.
Ok enough with all the technical jibber-jabber! Again, I want to remind you that PCOS does NOT and should NOT define you. You may have bad days but always remember that there are ways to boost your confidence and empower you to walk through life taller than ever. So, here are some ways you can boost your self-esteem:
a. Positive affirmations work!
When you’re dealing with PCOS, being told to be positive might come across as a little annoying. Like you just want to slap that person (who probably isn’t going through what you are) for just saying things without even thinking, right? However, there is an effective way to challenge and overcome pessimistic thought patterns and this is by doing it yourself FOR yourself. It’s just simple positive affirmations that you think of yourself, which can reinforce feelings of self-love and belief. Here are some examples of affirmations you could say to yourself on a daily basis:
- I believe in myself.
- I acknowledge the great qualities and talents I possess ( such as I’m a great public speaker, I am an honest person, I make people laugh etc)
- I surround myself with positive people who bring the best out in me. (which also means you HAVE to eliminate ALL the toxic people from your life because they are no good for your self growth)
- I let go of the negative feelings and opinions I have about myself. (No more ‘I am a worthless piece of shit’ and ‘I don’t deserve to have a man/woman in my life’ kinda nonsense!
- I love and cherish who I’ve become. For all my achievements, my struggles, my past and my mistakes for making me this person I am today.
b. Acknowledge and embrace yourself
This is in no way correlating to PCOS, but more focusing on your inner self. Ok, in order to embrace yourself, you have to take the initiative to acknowledge yourself first. I learnt this through a few amazing people I know (God bless them!) when I was down and out. And I’m going to share them with you ladies!
Key words: Dig deep. Set aside some time for yourself. Make some tea, sit down with a piece of paper or open Microsoft Word if you’re the tech-y type. List down the traits you possess and the roles you play in life. Ask yourself, are you creative? Smart? Funny? Are you a sister? A daughter? A friend? In order to get in touch with your inner-self, you have to make an identity list by beginning your sentences with “I am” followed by your traits.
Then comes the slightly harder part. You have to ask yourself what you value, what you stand for, and what brings you joy (sorta like you Marie Kondo-ing yourself). After you are done with the list, reread it and take a look at yourself and the qualities you bring to the table. Don’t hold back. Taking one step away and seeing ourselves through these unconditionally loving eyes, without the self-talk that brings us down can be a revelation.
c. Challenge yourself
If there’s an activity you’ve always wanted to do, now is the time to take that leap of faith! Yes – this can seem scary if you’re struggling with confidence, and yes – it’s easier to find a million and one excuses not to do it, but the simple act of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can work wonders for your self-esteem. It will demonstrate that you can achieve extraordinary things once you put your mind to it. Say if you always wanted to go to the beach wearing a nice fitted swimwear, do it. Find yourself a swimsuit that enhances your curves, put it on and go swimming! It is confronting at first, but once you’ve done it once, the second time is always easier. Don’t hold back on adventure and doing what you want to do because you worry about someone else’s opinion about you. It is NOT worth it!
d. Stay productive
Sometimes, a person may go through a stagnant phase in their lives, whereby that person feels hopeless and demotivated to do anything. Pair those feelings with PCOS and you’ve got yourself a great way to spiral downwards. In order to avoid being in this SHITuation as I call it, it is best to always keep yourself busy. Stay productive by working, studying, volunteering or do anything that keeps your mind working, because this can directly bolster your self-esteem and belief. Productivity can bring positive value to your life by instilling purpose, routine, structure and an opportunity to socialise with other people – key components that will help strengthen your confidence.
e. Keep the radiator & lose the drain!
As Oprah’s saying goes: people fall into two categories – radiators and drains. Radiators ooze warmth, kindness, love, happiness and enthusiasm. They smile when you walk into a room, are genuinely interested in others and make you feel good about yourself. Basically, radiators bring out the very best in people. God knows how much I love people who radiate love and positivity!
Drains, on the other hand, drain your energy and leave you feeling diminished. Drains are toxic, often self-absorbed, demanding and will take without ever giving anything back. I do have people like this in my life who I can’t really avoid but I do whatever it takes to stay far from them because I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life, I already have enough going on!
So, try to nurture relationships with positive people who support you and understand your condition, as they will help carve out your confidence.
f. Self-care & balance is fundamental
It’s the kind of advice we hear time and again, but it’s especially important for women with PCOS to always look after yourself. The basics : nutrition, sleep and exercise form the pillars of self-care, and all three will somehow help regulate your PCOS symptoms and boost your confidence. Eat wholesome foods and have that occasional chocolate, drink lots of water and healthy teas, work out at least 3 times a week or if you’re a busy bee, just go for a 30 minutes walk every day to keep that body active. Treat yourself to a relaxing holiday to unwind and recharge because it is absolutely important to have a balance in life, PCOS or not.
g. Get support!
We understand that PCOS can be tough, so don’t forget to reach out for support if you need it. Here are some avenues you might consider exploring:
- Mindfulness & meditation/relaxation: this practice can help you focus on the present, and become more in tune with your thoughts and feelings. I personally swear by this app called Headspace which helps me relax and put all my day’s troubles away for 5-10 minutes and just have me-time. It’s also a great tool for people with anxiety and overworked individuals. There are of course other apps that you can try. The key is to find the best one that suits your needs.
- Peer support: talking to others with PCOS can provide some reassuring guidance and advice. Some social media platforms like Instagram has many PCOS bloggers who share their lives and PCOS life hacks, even go as far as to help with PCOS diets and share healthy recipes! I have made some really great PCOS “cyster” friends and we help each other cope with the daily grind. There are also online communities and forums can also be an excellent place to gather support if you prefer keep your identity private.
- Speak to a professional: If things get too much and you find yourself feeling depressed, you can discuss any concerns you have with a health or medical profession such as counsellor or psychologist. Don’t be discouraged by people around you telling you that you don’t need help. Nobody knows how you feel except yourself, girl!
PCOS can affect all aspects of life including your self-esteem, but trying at least one of these tips can help you feel more positively about yourself. The good news is that you can bolster your confidence by implementing simple, holistic lifestyle changes. Yes – it will take some effort and daily care, but the result is so worth it.
That’s all for today! I hope you found this blog helpful. If you have PCOS, I urge you to gather all your inner strength to move forward. And if you are blessed with good health, please be supportive towards your friend/family member who may be going through any sort of health or mental issues.
Have a lovely week y’all!