Dealing with Depression/Self-esteem issues


Dr. Deshmukh,
I have low tolerance towards hot and cold weather. I simply can't take being out in either one for very long. I get really down when I see people jogging, working or doing any kind of activities in the heat or cold for a good amount of time. It bothers me even more when I see women jogging in the heat or cold, since I usually think of them as the weaker sex. Sorry to be sexist but that's the way I am. Could you please give me a few pointers on how not to feel physically weak and down on myself. Thanks for your time.

Dear George,

From the details you have provided, it seems there are two issues we might need to examine here. The first one relates to self esteem, as you have mentioned in the title and the other one is tolerance.

Talking about tolerance first, I am interested to know if you can challenge yourself to tolerate more. You have mentioned you have low tolerance towards hot and cold weather and that you can’t take being out for very long in both the extremes. Can you find out if you can actually make daily improvements gradually, without having to experience much discomfort? This can be achieved by planning your outdoor activities, such as jogging, charting them out, setting daily incremental targets and self-monitoring. This may sound very technical, but if you can try to push the limits, you will get more answers. And you never know if the limits are as close as you think they are.

Have you checked with your physician if there are any medical reasons for the low tolerance to the weather extremes? It will be a good idea to rule out physical causes. There are a number of physical conditions that cause a low tolerance to either hot or cold weather. I suggest you take an opinion from a physician either face to face or over here on AllExperts.

Pushing the limits is mostly a mental exercise. We tend to tolerate or not tolerate a particular situation depending upon what we have decided in our minds. If I find myself having difficulty tolerating a situation, such as traffic jams, which I do at times, I start with letting go of my rigid internal belief that “I can’t tolerate being stuck in traffic at all, and it’s terrible”.

Identifying such rigid beliefs frequently and challenging them helps a lot in eventually increasing tolerance. In your situation, it is important to identify if there are certain beliefs which are holding you back from pushing ahead even in hot and cold weathers.

Coming on to the other issue of self esteem, it seems to be connected to what inferences you are drawing from watching other people perform more in those weather conditions. However, I would caution you against giving ‘self-esteem’ too much importance. Self esteem is conditional! And that’s the problem with it. If certain conditions are fulfilled, such as winning a contest, achieving a target, we tend to associate them with a high self esteem. If such conditions are NOT fulfilled, we tend to feel down and tell ourselves that self esteem has hit a low! Isn’t this a self defeating exercise?

What if one starts accepting oneself WITHOUT any conditions? It is called unconditional self acceptance. If you have come across this term before, this is a good time to practice it daily. We are not defined by our circumstances, our defeats or triumphs. In the same manner, we must learn to ‘accept’ ourselves with all the good and the less than good qualities we have. Self acceptance should not ‘depend’ upon a particular performance … such as being able to tolerate hot and cold weather! Accepting yourself IN SPITE of that low tolerance is very important. Any change that has to take place, starts with acceptance first. Accepting is not giving up. Accepting is ‘acknowledging’, in a very non-disturbed and neutral emotional state, that “I am currently going out for long in hot and cold weather … and that doesn’t say anything about my self-worth!”

Looking at others being able to go out and jog in hot and cold weathers is acting as a trigger in your mind. It’s a trigger for thoughts such as “are they better than me in every sense?”, “will I ever be able to do that?”, “I am weak, and I can’t accept myself like this!” and so on. I invite you to find out such thoughts and challenge them.  The way to challenge these thoughts is to ask if these thoughts are helping you, if they appear logical and if they are realistic.

To summarize, it is important to unconditionally accept yourself, let go of any rigid beliefs that might be holding you back and not give ‘self –esteem’ too much importance, because self esteem is conditional, and that’s never permanent. Unconditional self acceptance, on the other hand, is a long lasting positive change.

I hope I could address your concerns here. Please do write back with your thoughts on this.

Take care.  

Dealing with Depression

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Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD


Hello. I have volunteered here to help you with questions regarding Depression. I intend to focus on the questions which are about how to deal with depression. Even if the depression is part of some other disorder, you can ask me about that. You can also ask me questions related to Psychotherapy for depression. I apply the principles of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in my own life, and also help my clients/patients with those. I believe in providing my clients/patients with the best possible and evidence based information. The same applies to the online answers here, too.


I am a trained Psychiatrist working since over 9 years. I am also a certified Psychotherapist (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy).

Indian Medical Association, Nagpur Academy of Medical Sciences, Nagpur

"Effect of Indian classical music on quality of sleep in depressed patients: A randomized controlled trial" - (Main Author) - Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 18, Issue 1 March 2009 , pages 70 - 78

I have done my MBBS from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Nagpur. Psychiatry training - DPM (Diploma in Psychological Medicine) from BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, Mumbai. Psychotherapy training - Primary + Advanced Certificate in REBT from Albert Ellis Institute, New York. Basic + Advanced Certificate in REBT from In Vivo - Mumbai Center for REBT, Mumbai.

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