13/10/2010 12:14 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Love Yourself: It Could Keep You Healthy

Everyone knows when you feel good about yourself everything else just falls into place and the world somehow seems better. And now psychologists believe having high self-esteem could be good for your health too.

Flickr, Playadura*

Researchers from New Zealand investigated how having high self-esteem might impact not just the mind but also the body. And it turns out that people who think highly of themselves may be doing their hearts and immune systems the power of good.

The science behind their theory involves a measurement called the cardiac vagal tone. This reveals how much influence the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) has on the heart.

Here's how it works. Your PNS slows down your heart, while the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) does the opposite - in times of stress, for instance. So ideally you want to have a higher measurement of PNS, as a low measurement in the long term is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease as well as immune system problems.

The New Zealand psychologists studied 184 people who took part in tests designed to raise or lower their self-esteem. Each experiment showed the volunteers with the higher self-esteem had a higher cardiac vagal tone - in other words, a higher PNS. The results are published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

So how can you raise your self-esteem and give your heart and immune system a boost? Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family members, the researchers suggest, is one way.

What tips do you have for raising self-esteem?