Affirmations have been studied in the context of mental health, and while they are not a standalone treatment for mental health conditions, they can be a helpful complementary tool. Here are a few studies and pieces of scientific evidence related to the use of affirmations for mental health:
Self-Affirmation and Health Behavior Change
A study published in the journal “Psychological Science” in 2013 examined the use of self-affirmation in health behavior change. The research found that self-affirmation interventions led to positive changes in health behaviors, such as increased physical activity and healthier eating habits. These changes were attributed to improved self-esteem and reduced defensive reactions to health messages.
Positive Affirmations and Stress Reduction:
A study published in “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience” in 2016 explored the effects of self-affirmation on the brain’s response to stress. The research found that self-affirmation can reduce stress responses in the brain, particularly in regions associated with threat processing. This suggests that affirmations may help buffer against the harmful effects of stress.
Affirmations and Self-Esteem
Numerous studies have explored the relationship between positive self-affirmations and self-esteem. While not all of these studies are specific to mental health, they indicate that affirmations can contribute to improved self-esteem, which is closely tied to mental well-being.
It’s important to note that while affirmations can be a helpful tool for promoting a positive mindset, they are often most effective when used in conjunction with other mental health strategies, such as therapy, mindfulness, and self-care. Additionally, individual responses to affirmations may vary, and what works for one person may not work as effectively for another. As with any mental health approach, it’s advisable to consult with a mental health professional for personalized guidance and support.
Try some of these 21 affirmations to promote mental health and well-being and cultivate a positive mind set:
- I am worthy of love, respect, and happiness.
- I am resilient, and I can overcome any challenges that come my way.
- I trust in my ability to make wise decisions for my well-being.
- I am grateful for the small joys and blessings in my life.
- I choose to let go of things that no longer serve my mental health.
- I am in control of my thoughts and emotions.
- I am kind and compassionate toward myself and others.
- I embrace change as an opportunity for growth and learning.
- I release negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
- I am open to seeking support when I need it, and that’s a sign of strength.
- I am confident in my abilities and talents.
- I deserve to take breaks and prioritize self-care.
- I am mindful of the present moment and find peace in it.
- I forgive myself for past mistakes and move forward with grace.
- I am surrounded by love and support from friends and family.
- I am a source of positivity and encouragement to those around me.
- I am resilient, and I can bounce back from setbacks.
- I am the author of my own story, and I choose to write a story of hope and empowerment.
- I am worthy of self-acceptance and self-love.
- I believe in my inner strength and ability to handle life’s challenges.
- I am on a journey of self-discovery and growth, and I trust the process.
Feel free to personalize these affirmations to align with your specific needs and preferences. Repeating these affirmations regularly can help shift your mindset toward greater mental health and positivity.
Epton, T., Harris, P. R., Kane, R., van Koningsbruggen, G. M., & Sheeran, P. (2015). The impact of self-affirmation on health-behavior change: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 34(3), 187–196.
Cascio CN, O’Donnell MB, Tinney FJ, Lieberman MD, Taylor SE, Strecher VJ, Falk EB. Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2016 Apr;11(4):621-9. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsv136. Epub 2015 Nov 5. PMID: 26541373; PMCID: PMC4814782.
Wood, J. V., Perunovic, W. Q. E., & Lee, J. W. (2009). Positive self-statements: Power for some, peril for others. Psychological Science, 20(7), 860–866.
Anne Marie Berggren RDN, MS, CDN, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian with a Master's Degree in Nutrition, training in integrative and functional nutrition, nutrition for mental health, obesity and weight management, is a board certified nutrition support clinician, and an adjunct professor for the Stony Brook Graduate Nutrition Program teaching advanced clinical nutrition.