It's tough being a teen these days.

You might find yourself struggling with your self-esteem.

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Social media comparisons and everyday challenges like school and relationships can lead you to feel bad about yourself.

Don't fall for this trap!

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Try these 3 self-esteem activities for teens to help improve your self-image.

1. Practice positive self-talk

Circle with 'I am' in the middle. Spokes say brave, smart, resilient, worthy, strong, capable, hard worker, and caring.

Do you have an inner critic, a voice inside your head that is negative, or puts you down?

Take these steps to turn your inner thoughts into positive self-talk:

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1. Identify one area where you use negative self-talk

  • For example, whenever Jo gets less than an A on his geometry assignments, he thinks to himself: "I'm terrible at math."

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2. Replace the negative thought with a positive one.

Each time you catch yourself thinking the negative thought, say the positive phrase instead.

  • Jo decides that he will say to himself, "I studied hard and did my best. Geometry isn't my best subject, but I'm really good at algebra."

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3. Repeat

Once your new, positive statement becomes a habit, identify another negative thought and repeat this process!

  • Jo notices that he also engages in negative self-talk when he scrolls through Instagram. He decides to work on that next.

2. Get moving

Exercise not only improves your physical health, it can also help you feel better mentally.

Close up photo of a person's calves and athletic shoes as they walk or fun up concrete steps. Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Moving your body on a regular basis increases blood flow to your brain, makes your bones and muscles stronger, boosts self-esteem, and can even reduce anxiety.

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Find something you enjoy so that you WANT to do it regularly.


  • Walking or jogging

  • Playing frisbee

  • Hiking

  • Riding your bike

  • Weight lifting and cardio

  • Skiing

  • Baseball or softball

  • Dancing

  • Yoga/pilates

  • Swimming

3. Volunteer in your community

Research shows that getting involved in the community helps improve teens' self esteem!

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Find a cause you believe in or an activity that interests you and sign up to help!

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  • Your town or city library

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  • Scouting organization

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  • Museum or art center

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  • Animal shelter

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  • Park cleanup

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  • Meals on Wheels

Do you love volunteering and live in the US? Consider Americorps after high school!

Meet Marisa

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Marisa is a 16-year-old high school student who gets average grades. She has a small group of close friends, is on the basketball team, is a member of the ski and running clubs, and lifts weights a few times a week.

Despite having solid friendships and being a strong athlete, Marisa struggles with her self-esteem. She often thinks to herself: "I'm not good at anything!" and "Everyone else is smarter than me."


Which of these activities would be best for Marisa to try to help improve her self-esteem? Select all that apply.

Take Action

The teen years can be tough on your self-esteem. Kudos on taking steps to improve the way you feel about yourself!

Try these action steps as you implement your self-esteem improvement plan!

Here's some inspiration from Selena Gomez to help you get started!


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