Choosing the best self esteem exercises depends primarily on whom the exercises are for and the source of the lack of self esteem. For example, many exercises of this type are designed specifically for young girls who are affected by the media, and others might be for adult men who have lost self esteem because of hair loss or erectile dysfunction. Many more general self esteem exercises exist both for groups and for self-help purposes. The best exercises are those that prove effective, and discovering which exercises accomplish this task might take some trial-and-error problem-solving techniques in each individual case.
There are many self esteem exercises that can provide a momentary boost of self esteem, but it is much more difficult to exercise the mind to improve self esteem permanently. This is because people who suffer from low self esteem often have not been socially injured but rather do not have good coping mechanisms for daily life. Ideally, self esteem exercises should assist the individual in patterning his or her thoughts so that he or she will be more capable of maintaining a positive self image even in the face of criticism or adversity. Otherwise, these exercises can accomplish only a short-term boost that remains dependent on the opinions of other people for its effectiveness.
Some of the most common self esteem exercises involve evaluating what one likes about himself or herself. Alternatively, some group exercises of this type require participants to list things that they like about each person in the room. These exercises can help identify qualities that are positively valued and might give the individual more defenses against situations that lower self esteem.
Many people advocate improving self esteem through exercises that do not directly provide attributes for the individual to value. Exercises of this type include making time to do things that one enjoys, sharing one's interests with others and wearing clothes that make one feel attractive. These exercises improve self esteem by making space for the individual to value himself or herself. Taking pride in one's self is often the very basis of self esteem.
Improving self esteem is complicated because it is so personal. Each person values different qualities, so keeping the exercises as open as possible is one way to increase the chances for success. Activities that rely on a group of people to state what they like about each individual risk lowering a person's self esteem, because not everyone takes compliments the same way. This is why it is often much more valuable to teach exercises that reorient focus inward and avoid those that rely on the opinions of others.