In today’s world of uncertainty, it’s helpful to know we have the power to influence our thoughts and behaviors. One way is to introduce positive thoughts, such as affirmations, as often as possible.
What are affirmations?
Affirmations are short and encouraging present-tense statements that validate and confirm a desired feeling or outcome. Affirmations create optimism and hope, and when repeated consistently, can help us feel more empowered and in control. They can also help us feel more confident to believe in our dreams and that our aspirations are achievable.
How do affirmations work?
Affirmations, which are stated in the present tense, represent a state in which the desired feeling or goal has already occurred. By spending just a few minutes connecting to our best qualities and best possible outcomes, affirmations exercise the brain and redirect neural pathways so that our mindset can change, grow, and reorganize in a productive manner.
Affirming statements can help to reduce the cycle of negativity that leads to stress, anxiety, fear, and depression. While affirmations are not a single-source solution, they can help us feel better and move us in a more positive direction. Plus staying focused on what we hope for by identifying, repeating, and affirming it, can actually help us get what we want. There’s an idea that if we talk to ourselves in a way that assumes we’ll achieve a certain outcome, we actually increase our chances of doing so.
How do I use affirmations?
There are plenty of ways to use affirmations. You can either make them related to a specific concern or focus them more generally on day-to-day challenges.
Many people recite affirmations first thing in the morning and at night before bed. Affirmations are best said out loud, for about five minutes, at least three times a day. You can use the same one or vary the affirmation accordingly, depending on the day, your mindset, or a particular event or challenge for which you know you need to tap into your confidence.
Some people also wear bracelets featuring their favorite affirmation, place written sticky notes on the mirror, or even tattoo the statement on their body.
Affirmations for better mental health
When it comes to mental health, affirmations keep your attention focused and productive, decreasing stress and anxiety and increasing resilience. When anxious thoughts arise, reciting affirmations can help maintain self-esteem ‒ and even train your brain to react accordingly during future anxious moments.
The subconscious mind doesn't draw a distinction between reality and imagination, which is one of the reasons affirmations are useful. Neuroplasticity is our brain’s ability to adapt throughout our lives, which offers some insight into why affirmations work. By curating a positive mental image of ourselves in a situation, we activate the same part of our brain that works when we actually experience these situations.
Some popular affirmations supporting mental health and well-being include:
- I love myself for who I am.
- I am strong and capable.
- How I feel matters.
- I allow myself to be in only healthy relationships.
- I choose to forgive and let go of anger.
Affirmations for every occasion
Affirmations can also help counter self-defeating thoughts in any kind of situation, reminding ourselves of previous accomplishments or that certain feelings are temporary and fleeting. These kinds of affirmations can sound like:
- I feel stressed, but it will pass.
- I have successfully managed feelings of panic before by breathing through it.
- I will come through this challenge with a better understanding of myself.
- I can become anything I put my mind to.
- I am strong, and I have faith in my abilities.
- I trust myself. I am safe.
Having the opportunity to redirect our thoughts toward a more positive mindset is exciting, especially in this modern climate, where chronic stress is abundant. We may not be able to control the state of affairs around us, but we have the power to choose and direct our perspective and behavior, which can and will effect change in our brain, our cells, and our lives.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, seek out a mental health professional who can help you develop coping strategies as well as speak to you about treatment options if your mental health has declined.
Mental health professionals (like therapists), life coaches, and Health Coaches all offer varying degrees of expertise. Health Coaches can work with clients on developing affirmations that address a variety of health concerns and goals, from weight loss and exercise goals to better relationships.