It's very nearly Christmas, arguably the most wonderful yet simultaneously stressful time of the year. With only three days to go until the big day, you might already be feeling slightly frazzled. Fear not, though - we come bearing good news in the form of powerful daily affirmations.
That's right - a quick and easy way to feel calm and zen-like fast, daily affirmations promise to help ground you and lower your stress levels. Before you shrug it off as yet another woo woo wellness fad, know this: practising affirmations daily has actually been found to build new positive neural pathways in the brain.
One 2016 study concluded that reassuring yourself with positive, self-relevant messages might activate the brain's self-related processing and reward pathways. In short, repeat positive affirmations and you should notice fewer negative thoughts as well as a healthier stress response.
Not just that, but further 2019 research shows that positive affirmations can have a powerful effect on your self-confidence, helping you to overcome self-doubt while fostering a proactive approach to pursuing goals.
Rather than let the festive season get the better of you - what better time than to focus on finding a moment of stillness each day for a soul-boosting affirmation? Below, a top life coach shares her top picks. Don't miss our guides to self care ideas, self reflection journalling prompts, and what happened when one writer tried journaling for anxiety, while you're here.
15 powerful daily affirmations to boost peace, calm, and positivity
What are powerful daily affirmations?
Wondering what a powerful daily affirmation might look like? An affirmation is simply a positive mantra and can be anything that feels relevant to you and asserts your self-worth.
“Daily affirmations are positive statements or phrases that individuals repeat to themselves regularly, typically daily,” explains chartered psychologist Dr Louise Goddard-Crawley. “The purpose of daily affirmations is to foster a positive mindset, boost self-esteem, and promote a more optimistic outlook on life.”
Research shows that consistently practising affirmations has a myriad of mental and physical health benefits, from boosting self-esteem and promoting resilience to deep-rooted issues such as trauma recovery.
"If you've been through difficult experiences, difficult memories and thoughts can return to you throughout your life," explains counsellor Georgina Sturmer. "Affirmations are helpful to remind yourself that you've survived, and to be able to help ground yourself in the present, where you are safe."
Pretty powerful stuff, then - and the best bit? Daily affirmations can be tailored to your individual needs, take mere seconds and can be done any time, any place – no lengthy self-care rituals, here.
Why are daily affirmations important?
Most of you know that your internal dialogue, aka how you speak to yourself, is crucial. Studies consistently show that positive self-talk can improve cognitive performance, help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and even alleviate physical pain, while a negative internal narrative can send us into a damaging spiral of self-loathing – not helpful at the best of times, let alone when you’re battling over Brussel sprouts with your mother-in-law.
While daily affirmations are straightforward, you do have to put in a little leg work to make them effective. Why? Well, simply because your brain has a natural negativity bias, meaning you have to consciously counteract this tendency, which takes practice.
“It’s not always easy to think about telling yourself something positive,” agrees Sturmer. “Complimenting yourself, or highlighting something that you're doing well, can feel uncomfortable for some.”
However, when you persevere with a compassionate and positive dialogue, you're sending your brain an extremely powerful message – that you are worthy and important and that your feelings matter.
Many of you spend your life looking after everyone around you, and never more so than at this time of year. While a caring nature is a wonderful attribute, you also deserve healthy relationships, just as those around you receive love and respect. "Affirming self-worth sets the foundation for healthy relationships," advises Dr Goddard-Crawley, "and reinforces the importance of self-respect."
What are the benefits of daily affirmations?
Over time, studies such as this one conducted by researchers at The University of California have shown that daily affirmations can improve self-esteem, cultivate a more positive self-image and allow us to challenge negative thought patterns, leading to a more resilient mentality.
“The practice of using daily affirmations builds new neural pathways in the brain,” explains Sturmer. “Neuroplasticity means that you literally have the capacity to rewire your brain when you think positively and when you voice positive things out loud to yourself.”
According to Dr Goddard-Crawley, by focusing on positivity, individuals can cultivate a more optimistic and joyful perspective, attracting positive experiences - something that life and careers coach Nicola Rae-Wickham has experienced both personally and professionally.
"Affirmations have helped me reach for optimism rather than positivity - which can easily turn into toxic positivity," she tells Marie Claire UK. "I've found them supportive in the hardest of times - as I struggled to conceive, changed careers and through my divorce. I journal and write them down and I also love audio affirmations. They've got me through some really challenging times."
If you're feeling sceptical, it's important to note that the affirmation, while having a positive spin, shouldn't be too far-fetched - otherwise, you run the risk of your brain simply rejecting it as fantasy. Female confidence coach Lucy Baker advises using them to challenge negative thoughts - for example, "I can't do this," becomes "I can cope with this."
Still not sure how to do it? Psychotherapist and anxiety expert Kamalyn Kaur recommends choosing one of the following statements that resonates with you, and following these three steps:
- Repeat it to yourself daily, as much and as often as you can. Make it your mantra. As time goes on you will begin to live, feel, believe and experience the statement.
- Write it down on a piece of card and place it where you will see or walk by it every single day - for example, on the fridge door, in your wallet, on your wall or inside a cupboard - so it’s the first thing you see as you begin your day.
- Set a daily reminder for the morning and evening on your phone. As a reminder, put in the positive statement so that every morning and every evening your positive statement pops up on your phone.
15 powerful affirmations to try today
Ready to give them a try? We asked the experts for their favourite uplifting, empowering statements that we can all use to see us through this festive season - and beyond.
- Even though I'm feeling overwhelmed, I am doing the very best that I can.
- I am a good and worthwhile person.
- I am good enough.
- I am worthy of love and respect.
- I am important.
- I am ok, now.
- I am confident and capable of achieving my goals.
- I am resilient and can handle life's challenges.
- I am successful.
- I try my best to think positively and create a joy in my life.
- I am open to new opportunities and embrace change.
- I forgive myself and release all negativity from the past.
- I take care of my physical and mental well-being with love.
- I am enough.
- I am creating my own reality through the choices I make.
Shop MC UK's go-to wellness products now:
Papier is team Marie Claire UK’s go-to for all our journaling needs. This gratitude journal has morning and evening prompts for whenever you can find a mindful moment and acts as a safe place to jot down your thoughts and feelings, filled with motivational messages and affirmations.
There's nothing better than a good pen, and we can confirm this curve ribbed ballpoint from Selfridges ticks all the right boxes.
Our Senior Health Editor Ally Head is a big fan of this book - while she normally prefers fiction to self care books, she found this one pretty game-changing when it comes to reframing negative thoughts and cultivating healthy habits.
As the name suggests, it's all about how small habits can lead to big changes, and also includes stories of how people have changed their lives following the author's handy tips and tricks.
What affirmations work best?
In short, this will depend on your personal outlook and state of mind. For some, the most powerful daily affirmations will be about your spirit and soul, others, the world in general.
Remember that affirmations are highly personal and will work differently from person to person, so it's key to work out what works for you.
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Anna Bartter is a freelance journalist who writes about health, fitness and women's lifestyle for publications including Stylist, Metro and Psychologies, among others.
She's always on a quest to find a variety of fun and functional workouts that give you the most bang for your workout buck and she's passionate about championing movement for everyone's mental and physical wellbeing.
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