If you’ve ever read self-help guides or watched webinars dedicated to personal growth and success, then the chances are that you’ve heard of positive affirmations. Millions of coaches and even anxiety disorder specialists often emphasize the effectiveness of positive affirmations, but if you’ve never actually tried them, such an idea may look somewhat weird.
Yes, talking to yourself and telling yourself that you’re great and everything will be alright may look like an awkward practice. However, a lot may depend on how you’re using affirmations, as well as your understanding of how they work.
The truth is that such a practice can be incredibly helpful when dealing with various mental health issues. For instance, many therapists recommend positive affirmations for anxiety, and there is some solid research data that proves their effectiveness. In this article, we will consider affirmations in more detail and think of how they may help you if you have anxiety.
What Are Positive Affirmations?
Affirmations are statements aimed at oneself. They can help a person who repeats them ease worries, cope with fear, and motivate themselves to make positive changes. While many mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, have a lot to do with negative self-talk, daily affirmations allow you to practice positive self-talk so you can balance your unhelpful thoughts.
The practice itself is incredibly simple. All you have to do is repeat the same phrase to yourself every once in a while. You can use different phrases, tailoring them to your goals. For instance, you may use affirmations to challenge negative thoughts, improve your self-esteem, or boost motivation.
When you repeat a supportive phrase over and over again, you basically force yourself to focus on this idea, so the phrase can become quite powerful. When you repeat a thought, it becomes easier for you to believe it, and the more you believe, the more likely you’ll act accordingly, turning your affirmation into reality.
Positive affirmations can help you improve your self-esteem and make you more confident when it comes to achieving goals. Besides, you can use affirmations to relieve anxiety or cope with panic attacks. They can also be very helpful when you’re stressed out. By repeating positive affirmations regularly, you can zero in on the possible positive outcomes, not letting doubts and fear stop you. (1)
Anxiety and Positive Affirmations
According to statistics, anxiety affects about 40 million adult Americans so it’s one of the most common mental health disorders. Anxiety can have a significant negative impact on many areas of your life because it can not only create challenges for you but also impact your relationships with others.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, and most of them are rooted in unhelpful thinking patterns that can influence a person’s decisions and actions, as well as reactions to various stressors. That’s where positive affirmations can help, enabling you to balance negative thoughts with positive ones.
A 2016 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy demonstrated the positive impact of daily affirmations when treating anxiety. The study focused on excessive worry, which is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety.
Participants were asked to replace thoughts that increase their anxiety with positive words or pictures that showed possible good outcomes. All of the participants showed noticeable improvements after a month of positive anxiety affirmations.
Moreover, even the control group that used affirmations that were unrelated to the subject of their worries benefited from this practice, which means that any kind of positive replacement for negative thoughts can help ease the symptoms of anxiety.
A great advantage of affirmations is that anyone can adjust them to a specific problem. For instance, social anxiety affirmations can be used to improve the sense of self-worth when a person feels threatened. Social anxiety can make a person very sensitive to negative social cues, like facial expressions or tone of voice.
Affirmations can help you switch your focus from the interpretations of these social cues that are driven by anxiety to other aspects of communication and its positive outcomes. They can also help emphasize your personal strengths so that you won’t forget them, and therefore strengthen your self-esteem.
Beware of Toxic Positivity
There is a difference between emphasizing the positive aspects of a certain situation and ignoring or denying the negative ones. If you have anxiety, you certainly can benefit from focusing on the positive aspects, and paying too much attention to the negative ones can prevent you from achieving your goals.
However, it’s also important to make sure that your positive affirmations are realistic because otherwise, they won’t really be helpful. To come up with helpful positive affirmations, you need to acknowledge the current situation, while also focusing on your ability to overcome obstacles. (2)
Acknowledging the challenges you’re dealing with can help you tailor your positive affirmations to a particular situation, making them more specific and therefore more effective. To avoid negative thoughts associated with the difficulties, think of how you’ve succeeded before and the positive qualities that might help you now.
For example, you may say: “I’m in a difficult situation right now but I have the necessary skills and experience,” or “I’m smart and strong enough to overcome all of the current challenges.” By simply denying the problems, you won’t be able to cope with them. If you choose to ignore your hard feelings and fear, they will still accumulate deep in your mind.
Instead of ignoring everything that makes you feel anxious or sad, you can acknowledge these things while also acknowledging the possible positive outcomes and your own abilities. Besides, you should keep in mind that using positive affirmations alone may not be enough when dealing with mental health disorders.
When dealing with anxiety, positive affirmations can be very helpful, enabling you to switch focus from your fears and negative thoughts to possible positive outcomes and your strengths that can help you achieve goals.
Given that symptoms of anxiety are rooted in negative thinking patterns, positive affirmations are a great practice that enables you to confront and challenge these negative thoughts. At the same time, it’s important to keep your affirmations realistic, without using them to ignore the difficulties.
Moreover, you should keep in mind that affirmations alone may not be a sufficient method of dealing with mental health problems. If you have anxiety, don’t hesitate to ask for help. When left untreated, symptoms of anxiety may only become worse.
A licensed therapist can help you figure out what triggers your symptoms and suggest effective grounding techniques for anxiety that may work in your particular case. If you have a busy schedule or are socially anxious, you don’t even need to commute to a therapist’s office.
Thanks to online platforms like Calmerry, you can benefit from video chat therapy without leaving your home. Learn more about the benefits of talk therapy — it has proven to be effective when treating many types of anxiety disorders.
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