I am happy. I am peaceful. I am loved.
These are some examples of affirmations.
Try closing your eyes and repeating them for a couple of minutes.
How do they make you feel?
Perhaps you feel a sense of calm and peacefulness or well-being.
Maybe you feel light-hearted and optimistic.
For those who suffer from anxiety and social anxiety, affirmations such as those can be powerful tools to help them overcome feelings of fear, shame, low self-esteem and other negative feelings associated with anxiety.
The Science of Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are a part of life, hard-wired into our sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight stress response.
Fight or flight is a millennia’s old chemical response to sensing dangers in our environment that would trigger the release of adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine in the body, preparing it to either fight an enemy (a wild animal or other human) or flee for survival.
These chemicals give us a sense of heightened alertness, reaction time and speed and make our hearts pump faster in order to send oxygen to the limbs so that we can run faster or fight more effectively.
Although our environments have evolved and our level of safety from wild animals, and, relatively speaking, from each other has improved, the stress response has remained and is triggered in situations that threaten things like our safety, solvency or self-esteem.
For example, being in a car accident, losing a job or risking embarrassment by having to give a performance or speech in public.
Additionally, there are those who face social anxiety, which is a specific category of anxiety triggered by social situations such as going to a party, going on a date, talking to strangers, public speaking, making eye contact, going to work or school, initiating conversations, using public restrooms or entering rooms with people in them.
Those with social anxiety may feel afraid of being judged or humiliated and fear being the center of attention.
The physical effects include increased heart rate, tense muscles, dizziness, upset stomach or diarrhea and shortness of breath.
All of us experience anxiety in some measures and forms, however, those who experience it often and to an extreme degree know how debilitating it can be.
The chemicals adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, also known as stress hormones, that are released during moments of anxiety are meant for short-term survival use.
When released consistently over long periods of time, they can be detrimental to our health and suppress the release of chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, melatonin and others responsible for feelings of happiness, well-being, satiety and healthy sleep patterns.
The healthy balance of these chemicals is important for maintaining optimal emotional and physical states.
When the body’s system is oversaturated with stress hormones, its immune defenses can suffer, making it vulnerable to physical illness and emotional imbalance.
Affirmations to Control Anxiety
So, what can you do to control your anxiety and regain balance?
Affirmations have been proven to be a powerful tool in controlling anxiety levels.
Considered the pioneer of positive self-talk through affirmations, Louise Hay who published the internationally bestselling book You Can Heal Your Life in 1984, used affirmations to heal herself from emotional trauma and physical illness.
Hay, a domestic abuse survivor, was diagnosed with irreversible cervical cancer in 1970 and began researching non-traditional alternatives.
Hay was successful in reversing her cancer and died in 2017 at the age of 90.
Though Hay’s work was revolutionary at the time, today, scientific studies are being regularly conducted proving that affirmations do indeed have positive effects on the body and brain by reducing stress and anxiety.
What are Affirmations and How Can I Use Them?
Affirmations are positive self-talk statements that, according to MRI scans, increase the neural pathways in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that’s responsible for values of morality and self-valuation.
Practically speaking, affirmations are a tool that you can use to re-channel negative thought and belief patterns and replace them with positive ones.
They are usually positive statements that bring up a quality you wish to cultivate rather than negate a quality you wish to eliminate.
For example, instead of saying “I don’t feel scared” say “I feel powerful”.
Though there is no set number of times you should repeat an affirmation, making it at least a daily practice can increase its benefits.
Here are some examples of affirmation practices you can cultivate to help with your anxiety:
- Repeating an affirmation or list of affirmations every morning for 15 minutes before starting your day
- Repeating an affirmation or list of affirmations every night for 15 minutes before going to bed
- Writing down your affirmations every morning and evening
- Repeating affirmations on an as-needed basis, for example, before a presentation or a date or any other situation that makes you feel anxiety
- Saying your affirmations out loud
- Repeating your affirmations silently
- Recording yourself repeating your affirmations and playing it for yourself in a moment when you feel you need extra support
Your affirmations and affirmation practice are yours and yours alone.
You can experiment with any and all of the above suggestions or cultivate your own unique affirmation practice that works best for you.
Benefits of Affirmations
Popular public figures such as Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Denzel Washington and Jennifer Lopez champion the positive effects affirmations have had for them in overcoming the pressures of their industries and the challenges they experienced on their way to success.
Some of the ways that affirmations can be beneficial are:
- Increase awareness of your thought patterns so you can identify negative ones and work to replace them with more positive ones.
- Enhance your feelings of confidence, security, self-esteem, gratitude, empowerment and well-being.
- Increase concentration, allowing you to complete important tasks with greater degrees of success.
- Help you keep calm in the face of stressful situations, increasing your confidence that you will be able to overcome them now and in the future.
- Create a tendency to reach for a positive thought rather than a negative one when in anxiety-triggering situations.
- Support you in maintaining a positive outlook.
- Help you visualize the person you want to become.
- Enhance positive relationships with others.
- Increase your sense of comfort in your surroundings.
Affirmations for Anxiety
So, now that you understand why overcoming your anxiety is important and how affirmations can help, here are some of the best affirmations for anxiety.
You can repeat them as daily or morning affirmations for anxiety and also use one or more of them the next time you feel yourself becoming anxious:
- I am strong
- I am lovable
- I am capable
- I am brave
- I am calm
- I am safe
- I am confident
- I am intelligent
- I am talented
- I am accomplished
- I am empowered
- I am prepared for this
- I can get through this situation
- I will be fine
- Everything is going to be okay
- This moment is only temporary
- I will feel better soon
- I choose to be calm
- I have the power to change this feeling
- I have the power to overcome my fears
- I am safe in this present moment
- There is nothing to fear
- I accept myself
- I love myself
- I deserve peace
- I deserve happiness
- I deserve success
- I can do anything I set my mind to
- I can have the life I want
- I am in control of my emotions
- I am in control of my life
- I have the support I need
- I am nurtured and deeply loved
- My life is my own
- Nothing can hurt me
- I am free from fear
How to Choose an Affirmation
While any of these affirmations are positive statements, not all of them will have the same effect in relieving your feelings of anxiety or social anxiety.
Affirmations are most powerful if they resonate with you and your sense of values.
If you choose an affirmation that doesn’t hold meaning for you, then it will be less effective.
Think about what kind of negative feelings you experience when feel anxious and then create an affirmation that specifically targets that feeling.
For example, if you’re feeling social anxiety when walking into a party and your negative feeling is “Nobody will like me” try a positive affirmation such as “I am lovable” or “I have friends who love me”.
While some levels of stress and anxiety are normal, high levels of anxiety and social anxiety can negatively affect your physical health and emotional well-being.
Affirmations have been proven to counter these negative effects and create neural pathways that reinforce positive thoughts and beliefs, promoting overall health and happiness which can improve your quality of life.
As you cultivate your affirmation practice, choose affirmations that resonate with your core beliefs and values to most effectively alleviate feelings of anxiety and social anxiety.