Affirmations are positive declarations and self-scripts meant to mold the subconscious into a more positive form.
Lately, this new-age practice is being hailed by practitioners and their patients as a potentially revolutionary practice.
These individuals state that positive affirmations have the capability to heal the hurt done by negative talk that takes place both from within our own minds and from the mouths of others.
What about affirmations to help treat the two most common mental illnesses in the world – anxiety and depression?
Can the causes or symptoms of anxiety and depression be reduced, or even healed, through positive affirmations?
Promising Research on Affirmations
In a 2010 study done at Arizona State University, three expert ‘populations’ were studied: popular self-help literature, respected psychologists and psychotherapists, and individuals who were experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
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In the research that was conducted it was determined that, at the very least, affirmations can be useful as a supplemental form of treatment for many depressed and/or anxious patients. For some patients, affirmations proved to be the most influential part of their recovery process.
Within the study, 17 therapists on a scale of 1-7, rated seven different affirmations on how effective they were in the treatment of those struggling with an anxiety disorder and/or clinical depression. The same affirmations were used for both disorders, as they often complement each other.
Interestingly, the three highest-rated affirmations were for anxiety. The top three affirmations had average scores of 5.43, 5.37, and 5.03, respectively. The top three affirmations for depression had scores of 4.83, 4.58, and 4.58.
Nearly all of the participants (including the therapists) agreed that affirmations can be a helpful practice when recovering from anxiety and depression! Individuality and the patients’ preferred method of treatment is thought to be the most important element in determining how effective a method of treatment is.
In other words, the willingness and belief of the individual to embrace positive affirmations increases the likelihood that these affirmations will make a positive impact!
The authors conclude with restating that treatments for anxiety and depression are highly individualized and customizable, and must be constructed as such. In the construction of an individualized treatment plan, all therapists and the authors of the study agree that affirmations should be deliberated – as they have been embraced by therapists and patients alike.
11 Powerful Affirmations to Help Treat Depression and Anxiety
If you are new to affirmations, you’ll find our “How to Practice Affirmations” guide below very helpful. Repeat these positive affirmations, begin to believe them and you’ll see results!
1. I love myself unconditionally.
2. I am STRONG!
3. I allow only healthy and loving relationships into my life.
4. Life wants the best for me. I am OK with where I am right now.
5. I am connected and comfortable in all environments, with all people.
6. I find and enjoy the simple pleasures life is offering right now.
7. How I feel matters, therefore I concentrate on aspects of life that make me feel good!
8. My challenges bring me better opportunities.
9. My mood creates a physiological response in my body. I am peaceful and positive!
10. I am in control of my thoughts and my life.
11. I love myself and who I am.
How to Practice Your Affirmations
First, it’s important to understand that effectiveness of affirmations depends on your commitment and dedication to practicing consistently. The belief of the affirmation will get easier over time. If you talk every day, then you are already practicing affirmations.
Every word you speak is an affirmation. It’s just that sometimes our affirmations to ourselves, about others, or our situation is not positive. Affirmations help us to consciously flip the switch and begin speaking in the direction that we actually want to travel.
You will want to make affirmations a daily routine (or at least a few times a week) in order to achieve the maximum benefits and help relieve your anxiety/depression faster. Be gentle with yourself though and do them as often as you can. Like anything, it seems harder in the beginning and then gets easier and easier until it’s like second nature.
Here are some helpful steps in getting you started on the path to positive affirmations:
1. Contemplate your positive qualities. As human beings, we more often think about what we’d rather change about ourselves than what we love. We are all unique creatures, given gifts that no one else in the world has! Write down the things that you know are special about you, and write them in the first person (“I am…”)
2. Consider the negative scripts that you wish to replace with positive ones. What goes through your head when you’re down? Do you have negative perceptions about your looks, intelligence, accomplishments or abilities? Time to replace that negative chatter with those positive qualities you listed in step one!
3. Consider what positive goals you want to accomplish. There are specific goals that you want to achieve, right? As you continue to feel better about yourself, you’ll be more and more motivated to work towards these. Write them down.
4. Order your list of goals and scripts. You may find that your list of scripts and goals have grown rather large. That’s great! You will want to work on a few of these at a time. Choose what is the most urgent and work on these first. When you see measurable improvement in an area, move down the list!
5. Re-write and re-read your affirmations and goals daily. Make a habit of writing your goals and scripts daily – to the point where they’re the last thing you think of when you fall asleep and the first thing when you wake up.
6. Combine your positive qualities (step 1) with your goals (step 3).What positive qualities did you affirm in step one that can help you achieve the goals that you’ve set? If you resolve to lose weight and have great focus, then you can combine these two to give yourself some momentum. Choose two or three affirmations to support your goals.
7. Meditate on your affirmations. Get in a meditative state, whatever is most comfortable for you, close your eyes, and think about your affirmations. Feel the emotions that arise as you repeat the words and think about the future.
8. Remind yourself of your affirmations. Write down your affirmations on notecards, a whiteboard, scrap paper, or Post-Its and place them around your home, work, and car; wherever you will see them. Each time you see the affirmation, think about what it means to you.
9. Keep at it! Practice makes perfect. As you continue with your affirmations and begin to see real evidence of your making small changes, feel gratitude and keep going. You will begin to see bigger and bigger changes in your mood, feelings about yourself and others, and your life.