What are Positive Self-Affirmations?
Positive Self-Affirmations are positive statements aimed at yourself to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts. It is said that by practicing positive self-affirmations it can motivate yourself, encourage positive changes in your life, boost self-esteem and much more. It is also super easy to do! All you need to do is pick a statement, say it to yourself and repeat. Positive self-affirmations are for those who find themselves talking negatively about themselves all the time.
For positive self-affirmations to be effective and make changes in your life, you need to practice them regularly. Positive affirmations are based on a key psychological theory called self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988). It suggests that we can maintain our sense of self-integrity by telling ourselves (or affirming) what we believe in positive ways.
But don’t think you will be cured from anxiety and depression through positive affirmations alone. They can’t be used as a clinical treatment, but that’s not to say they won’t help at all.
Positive affirmations introduces a new and adaptive cognitive process and it’s suggested it restructures cognition. Don’t believe me? A study by Taber et al. (2016) found that a group of cancer patients that those who practiced positive self-affirmation had a significant correlation to feelings of hopefulness.
It has also been suggested that affirmations can improve sleep. A large study conducted in 2003 (Staner, 2003) found that anxiety-sufferers who experienced sleeping difficulties found that affirmations can sometimes help relieve anxiety and promoted better sleep.
Still not convinced positive self-affirmations have lots of benefits? Here’s a list of psychological studies conducted to see the benefit of affirmations:
Self-affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015);
Self-affirmations have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behavior (Cooke et al., 2014);
They may help us to perceive otherwise “threatening” messages with less resistance, including interventions (Logel & Cohen, 2012);
They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead with the intention to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) and to eat more fruit and vegetables (Epton & Harris, 2008);
They have been linked positively to academic achievement by mitigating GPA decline in students who feel left out at college (Layous et al., 2017);
- Self-affirmation has been demonstrated to lower stress and rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Weisenfeld et al., 2001).
So, it might be worth spending a couple minutes a day saying/writing a positive self-affirmation to yourself. Something that relates to you and your personality and sense of self. Examples are ‘I am a strong person’, ‘I am a beautiful person inside and out’, etc. and reap all the benefits!