How and Why to Use Positive Affirmations as a Stress Management Tool

Positive Affirmations Can Be Fun!

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Positive affirmations are a great tool to reprogram your unconscious mind from negative thinking to positive. The idea is to take positive statements of what you would like to see manifested, and repeat them enough so that they’re part of your way of thinking and seeing the world; this operates in the same way that negative self-talk does, but in a way that benefits you. To come up with your own positive affirmations, use the following guidelines:

  • Look At Your Intentions:Think about what you are trying to create in your life. This means, look at the end product, and the behaviors, attitudes and traits you would like to see yourself develop in order to get there. Would you like to feel more peace? Would you like to practice more healthy lifestyle habits? Would you like to be a more supportive friend? You might want to write in a journal and brainstorm to figure out what’s important to you and get to the heart of what you want to create in your life. (A good starting point is to imagine your ideal life, pretend a fairy has given you three wishes, or try to visualize what you were put on Earth to be.) 
  • Create Statements: Once you get an idea of what you’re aiming for, try to put that idea into a few simple statements that reflect the reality of what you want to create. Phrase the statements as if they are already true, not that you would like them to be true. For example, the affirmation, “I am feeling more peaceful each day,” would be better than, “I want to feel more peaceful.”This is because you are programming your subconscious mind to believe the statements, and that helps manifest them into reality. You’re not trying to wantsomething, you’re trying to make it so. 
  • Be Sure They’re Positive: When making positive affirmations, be sure they’re positive! This means saying what you want to see and experience, not what you don’t wantto see and experience. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t want to feel stress,” or even, “I’ve stopped feeling stress,” use, “I’m feeling peace”. Sometimes your mind doesn’t register the negative, and it just hears the concept, “stress”, which is what you’re trying to avoid. 
  • Make Them Realistic: Your subconscious mind can benefit from positive affirmations that stretch and expand your perspective, but if you push things too far, your ‘inner judge’ steps in and negates the affirmations. Be sure that you’re making your affirmations realistic, but hopeful as well, and positive affirmations will work foryou. For example, the affirmation of, ‘Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and stronger, etc.’ might feel like too much of a stretch, and your subconscious mind might ‘beg to differ’. However, ‘I am learning from my mistakes,’ or ‘I am grateful for all that I have in my life,’ might feel more ‘real’ to your subconscious mind. Experiment, and see what feels right to you. 
  • Use Mine: If you’d like some ideas for affirmations designed to reduce stress in your life by increasing peaceful thoughts, feelings of safety, and fostering a stronger sense of self-efficacy, you can check out my Stress Management Affirmations, or you can discover them the fun way by playing Affirmation Hangman. (If you’re going to play the game, don’t look at the list until afterward, or guessing the affirmations in the game will be too easy!)

Once you’ve found your affirmations, here are some fun ways to introduce positive affirmations into your life:

  • Repetition:Probably the most popular way to harness the power of affirmations is to simply repeat them to yourself on a regular basis. Repeating them mentally several times in the morning or evening can be effective; repeating them aloud is even more effective because you hear them more clearly that way. 
  • Do-It-Yourself Recording:You can make a recording of yourself repeating positive affirmations and play it as you drive, get reading in the morning, or do other activities. Talk in a calm voice, maybe play your favorite soothing music in the background, and you have a recording tailor-made especially for your needs! 
  • On Post-Its:A fun way to use affirmations is to put them on post-its that you place around your house (on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, and other places you’ll likely see them) to give yourself positive messages throughout the day. This technique can be effective on its own, or can be used with other affirmation techniques as a reinforcer. 
  • Self-Hypnosis: To really increase the effectiveness of affirmations, you can use them with self-hypnosis. This is a way to really cement them into your subconscious thinking much more quickly than repeating them in your normal conscious state. (Here’s more information on the benefits of self-hypnosis and how to use self-hypnosis for stress management.