We frequently hear about the importance of practicing affirmations to improve mood and overall quality of life. But have you ever stopped to wonder why affirmations are so beneficial? What makes them so powerful?
Affirmations are short, positive statements that are designed to motivate and encourage you. When these brief phrases are repeated frequently, they affect your conscious and subconscious mind, and can end up creating positive changes in the way you think, feel and act.
Why should you practice affirmations?
Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of practicing positive affirmations.
Affirmations rewire your brain
Affirmations activate the reward centers of the brain – the regions that get activated in response to other pleasurable experiences such as eating tasty food or receiving a prize. Moreover, studies show that affirmations can help rewire the brain. If we keep repeating positive statements (even if they may not necessarily be true at the time), we are more likely to start believing their messages.
Affirmations decrease stress levels
In times of stress, there is a rise in the level of cortisol in the body. This, in turn, can cause various unpleasant changes such as high blood pressure, disrupted sleep and low mood. In contrast, studies show that practicing affirmations daily can help reduce cortisol levels in the body – which, in turn, can protect you from the harmful effects of stress.
Affirmations increase productivity
If you’ve noticed a dip in your productivity levels, affirmations can help you turn things around. Repeating positive, encouraging statements to yourself, such as “I can do this” or “I am capable” can help you internalise these positive messages. This in turn can help you feel more motivated and can help you accomplish more in a day.
Affirmations improve mood
When you’re not feeling great, it can be really hard to look for the silver lining in difficult situations. In such times, affirmations can help! By repeating positive statements to yourself each day, you can shift your focus away from the negatives to more positive thoughts and feelings. Moreover, by drawing attention to your strengths and positive qualities, affirmations can help boost your self-esteem.
Affirmations foster a growth mindset
Having a fixed mindset (believing that your abilities are fixed and can’t be cultivated) can stop you from adapting to ever-changing and difficult circumstances in life. On the other hand, practicing affirmations can actually help you shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. When done right, affirmations can inspire you to become flexible and motivate you to have an open mind towards new possibilities.
Affirmations help cultivate gratitude
Affirmations can infuse you with positive emotions like joy, peace, hope and even gratitude. Practicing affirmations can make you feel better and appreciate the little things life has to offer. They help you become aware of all that’s good in your life and can even make you feel more hopeful for the future.
How to create your affirmations
Now that you are aware of the benefits of practising affirmations, you can start by creating your very own. Here are some guidelines that can help you:
Make them personal
You could pick affirmations about literally any topic or area that you can think of. Identify a goal you want to achieve for yourself. You might want to become more confident about yourself, have stronger relationships with people, or simply feel happier in general. Having a goal in mind can make your affirmation practise more focussed and effective.
Use the first person
It’s important to ensure that your affirmation is about YOU and not about anyone or anything else. The easiest way to do this is to use statements that have the word “I” in them. For instance, you could say, “I am calm and at peace”. Such statements can help you feel in charge of your life and can even motivate you to take action to see positive changes.
Focus on the positives
The whole point of affirmations is to tune your attention to the positives. As far as possible, avoid negative words like “not”, “never” or even “no”. For instance, instead of saying, “I won’t be sad anymore”, you could use a more affirming alternative of “I let in happiness and joy”. Practising such positively-worded statements can rewire your brain to be more optimistic in general.
Use the present tense
Affirmations can work wonders and actually change the way you live your life when you use statements that focus on the present. Instead of saying, “I will be confident”, try saying “I AM confident”. By believing that something you want is already true, you are more likely to engage in behaviours in order to actually achieve it.
Make the most of your affirmations
Getting into the habit of practising affirmations takes time and requires patience. To make this process easier, you can refer to the list of strategies given below and get started on your journey!
Repeat your affirmations slowly
When you practise your affirmations, be slow and gentle as you repeat each of them. You could say the statements out loud or go over them in your mind. Take deep breaths while practising your affirmations. If you want, you could even close your eyes and place your hand on your heart while repeating or rehearsing these statements. Spending even 1 minute practising your affirmations this way can leave you feeling calm, at peace and more positive.
Set reminders for yourself
When it comes to affirmations, consistency is key! In order to remain consistent and hold yourself accountable, you can set reminders for yourself. You could write down your affirmations on note cards, stick these cards up on your wall or even set a core affirmation statement as the wallpaper on your phone. No matter what type of reminder you choose, make sure it’s something that will prompt you to stay committed.
Start your day with affirmations
Starting your day by repeating affirmations can put you in the right frame of mind to tackle whatever the day brings with it. You don’t even have to allocate too much time for this; even a few minutes can make a difference! You can repeat affirmations while drinking your morning beverage or while you shower and get ready. Doing this can ensure that you have a day filled with positivity, productivity and hope.
Anchor them to a place of discomfort
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in any part of your body, focus your affirmations towards this area. For instance, if you frequently experience back pain, you can repeat to yourself: “My back is strong and healthy” or “I am letting go of tension from my back”. Over time, repeating these affirmations can help you develop a deeper connection between the body and mind, and can also help you build strength and tolerance in the face of physical and emotional distress.
Maintain an affirmation diary
It is common knowledge that maintaining a journal for writing down your thoughts and feelings can benefit your well-being. Journaling can work for affirmations, too. Instead of repeating your affirmations out loud, you could try writing them down. Writing requires effort – and so jotting down your affirmations can actually make you process them more deeply. You could even create an exhaustive list of all your affirmations and refer to this list in difficult times.
End your day with affirmations
Just as you start your day on a positive note, you can close the day on a positive note, too. Before bed, repeat your affirmations a few more times. You could also practise affirmations that focus on gratitude. Doing this will fill your mind with positive thoughts and can even help you get good quality sleep.
When it comes to affirmations, there is no one size that fits all. You could explore different types of affirmations in order to identify the ones that work for you. Remember that you have the power to change your life for the better! With a little bit of practice, affirmations can help you steer clear of negative thoughts and instead, lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
5 Steps to Make Affirmations Work for You. (2011, August 15). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-wise-open-mind/201108/5-steps-make-affirmations-work-you
Bell, E. (2018, October 13). How to harness positive affirmations for better mental health • The Anxious Empath. Retrieved from https://emmaclairebell.com/positive-affirmations-mental-health/
Mind Tools Content Team, Mind Tools Content Team, & Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). Using Affirmations: – Harnessing Positive Thinking. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/affirmations.htm
Affirmations: The Why, What, How, and What If? (2014, March 12). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smart-relationships/201403/affirmations-the-why-what-how-and-what-if
Positive Daily Affirmations: Is There Science Behind It? (2020, April 29). Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/daily-affirmations/
Economy, P. (2018, March 22). Affirmations and What They Can Do to Guarantee a Productivity Boost. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/affirmations-what-they-can-do-to-guarantee-a-productivity-boost.html
Jacobson, S., Jacqueline, Therapy, H., Jacqueline, H., & Therapy, H. (2019, October 11). Daily Affirmations – Do They Really Work? Retrieved from https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/daily-affirmations-do-they-work.htm