Have you heard of “affirmations” before? If you’re like me, you first heard about them from “wellness influencers” on social media platforms like Instagram. Folks over there often try to sell you unattainable ideals to aspire to. But the more I struggled with anxiety flare-ups, the more I realized that affirmations can truly be beneficial.
What are affirmations? I define affirmations as: easy-to-remember phrases that when thought or spoken make you feel more calm and in control. In today’s culture, mantras and affirmations are used interchangeably, as the Western world adopted or co-opted more Eastern traditions.
Fun fact: “the word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words—manas (mind) and tra (tool),” according to Yoga Journal. By creating affirmations that help us visualize a more calm reality, we’re working to rewire our brain.
As someone who struggles with anxiety and stress-related issues, I recently found myself overwhelmed in a few situations. I was able to ground myself in reality with the help of affirmations plus physical reminders of those affirmations!
Here are some tips to develop your own affirmations, and why they’re so beneficial to our everyday lives.
Find quiet time (aka meditation) and see what words come to you.
When I get too busy to take a minute to sit and relax, my mind spins all over the place. By making time to check in with myself, I find that problems start to solve themselves. I feel more calm and ready to handle the tasks ahead of me. Through meditation and thinking through my specific anxieties, I was able to develop mantras and affirmations that spoke directly to my needs.
This can also work within your journaling practice, if you have one. Take a few quiet moments to write out phrases you find helpful and soothing.
If you’re curious about the best way to frame or phrase your affirmations, this Psychology Today article has some great tips. And if you have specific areas of stress, such as your mentality around food, dietitians often have great Intuitive Eating affirmations to choose from.
Create a mood or vision board of images/phrases that represent the “vibe” you want to be presenting.
Vision boards are a great way to envision your future, and they can also help you to create positive affirmations. Some people are more visual learners/interpreters than others, so if jotting down phrases in your journal doesn’t feel like the right fit for your affirmation creation, try finding images that fit the overall vibe you want to focus on.
In times of stress or anxiety, call to mind those images until they have a calming effect on you. Imagine yourself physically within the scene or environment of those images and use it to your advantage.
Use physical reminders of your affirmations to help ground you.
Physical reminders can take many shapes and forms. Some people use sticky notes with their affirmations written on them, and leave them posted throughout their home, car or work area.These serve as helpful guidance during your day.
Personally, I have two necklaces that I wear frequently. One has the charm of a little bee, and one is a series of delicate, links. These two pieces of jewelry are physical reminders of two of my mantras or affirmations: “Little bees do great things” and “You are strong enough.”
Other people use engraved bracelets or rings as their physical reminders. Their purpose is to give you something tangible to hold onto and ground yourself during moments of anxiety.
Creating positive affirmations can really have a lasting effect on your mood and mindset. I love having this as an extra resource in my stress management toolkit. When I can tell an anxiety flare-up is coming, I use my physical reminders and repeat a few key affirmations to myself to keep my stress from getting out of hand.