When I first looked into practising positive affirmations, I never imagined that it would have the ability to improve my mental health as much as it has to this day. ‘Positive affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often and start to believe in them, you can start to make positive changes.’ Using positive affirmations was one of those things that I had written off as a bit of a waste of time. Let’s face it; the last thing you want to do when you’re having a shit day is, sit in front of the mirror chanting some random quotes from the internet when all you really want to do is crawl back into bed and cry.
However, it was one of those shit days where I thought, why not give it a go? With nothing to lose, I had tried everything else to try and clear the foggy feeling in my head. From trying to find solace in googling how to solve my problems, tirelessly overthinking everything - to pouring my heart out to my friends over several incredibly long voice notes. I just couldn’t shift it. I was done feeling sorry for myself, and so as I was walking from the tube to my flat after a long day; I began with the positive mantras. “I am enough just as I am.” I remember genuinely laughing out loud at myself as I repeated this line over and over again in my head. It felt so ridiculous that I was even trying it, but I was persistent. With each repetition of the affirmation, each time I found myself believing in it more. By the time I got home, I already felt better. I had gone from crying on public transport (we’ve all been there) to in 20 minutes, feeling genuinely more confident and accepting in myself. My problems were still there, but what I suddenly felt was a sense of acceptance by looking at them in a different light. I finally and so quickly understood how treating yourself kindly is such an essential step in taking care of yourself. We all have bad days and realising that it is okay to feel shitty is the best place to start. By now, it’s become a staple in my self-care routine. If I ever feel myself slipping into a bad mood, I force myself to replace my negative thoughts with positive ones. For each bad thing I feel, I remind myself that whatever I am experiencing will end, and I choose to think instead of why I am lucky, or loved, or important. Especially now, where we so easily feel cut off, isolated and overall pretty hopeless about the world around us – it’s crucial to remember to treat ourselves with kindness. This isn’t me saying that practising positive affirmations will solve all of your problems – but it’s a good place to start in the meantime. Either having a go-to line you repeat to yourself when you feel your thoughts getting cloudy, or by writing some positive thoughts down whenever you remember; it’s worth a try. Tips for getting into using positive affirmations: - Begin small. Start with a phrase or line that is easy to remember which in itself can help put you at ease or put things into perspective for a short while. For example; ‘I am enough just as I am’, ‘this feeling is only temporary’, ‘things will get better with time’. Try starting your day before you do anything else, with a positive affirmation. - Whenever you feel low or stressed, it can be useful to write some affirmations or positive thoughts down. Try every day or even just when you remember, to write down five positive statements about you or your life. Some things I have written in the past go along the lines of; ‘I am healthy’, ‘I have friends who love and support me’, ‘I am a kind person’, ‘not everything is within your control’. Sometimes all we need is to be gently reminded of the good things amid the bad times. - Transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk. By telling yourself, ‘I’m bad at this’ or ‘I can’t do that’ over time, these thoughts become internalised feelings which can then lead to becoming concrete views of yourself. When you find yourself doing this, stop and replace with a positive statement. For example, ‘I’m bad at this’ would become ‘once I get more practice, I’ll be better at this’. - Focus on the present! It’s hard not to get caught up in stresses that may show up in future. It’s important to remember that most of these things are not within your control. Spending time focusing and stressing on these things that haven’t even happened yet will not change whether they happen or not.