It can too easy to dwell on the negatives and accidentally ignore the positives in life. This world is filled with constant changes and choices that can cause us to overthink what we said or did wrong, worry too much about the future and past, and inadvertently miss all the good and potential happening around us.
This is why one of the many treatments for depression is positive affirmation. It can be helpful to remind ourselves daily that not only do we deserve to be happy, but often we can find that happiness with just a bit of positive reinforcement.
When we say it aloud, it can often help us believe it.
Despite the limited research into positive affirmation, the results that have been found are largely positive. Considered a primary factor in cognitive restructuring, therapists have begun working with patients by helping them notice these old negative thought patterns and then change them slowly over time. Many living with anxiety or depression, for example, have found success by repeating these affirmations to themselves daily.
Affirmations are phrases or sentences that you say to yourself, every day, to help you feel more comfortable with who you are. These sorts of exercises can start with telling yourself, “My life is filled with purpose and passion,” or, “I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.” Positive affirmations even cover statements like, “I am enough,” or, “I am worthy of what I desire,” to put the focus on who we are, what we want, and our own self-esteem. It may feel a little silly at first, but the goal – which is shown to be effective – is to rewire the mind and the way we view our experiences, eventually allowing patients to see the world as a brighter, more hopeful place.
Begin Positive Affirmations Before The Negativity Is Overwhelming
Beyond the effects of positive affirmations for those dealing with pre-existing conditions, researchers have also begun looking to see if treatments that focus on psychological mindsets can be used to prevent mental health conditions in the first place, rather than simply treat them after. For this study, college age women were selected as the researcher’s primary patients, as they are one of the largest populations at-risk for depression.
For 50% of the women, the researchers instructed them on different behavioral intervention techniques, like positive affirmation. The other half of the group received no treatment and acted as the control population for research results. After this, the researchers checked in on each group of women at varying times over 18 months to get their readings.
Those of the college-aged women that used the cognitive restructuring tools like positive affirmation scored lower on tests intended to gauge depression and higher on tests scoring self-esteem. In comparison, the control group population scored higher on tests measuring depression. Researchers felt the treatment results of those who focused on rewiring their thought processes could potentially prevent depression and help treat depression-like symptoms.
But Are Affirmations Truly Preventative?
Positive affirmation research is still in its early stages. As mentioned in the study above, affirmations were only one of a variety of different cognitive and behavioral treatments utilized by the research team. It would be unfair to say if the positive affirmations had the benefit of prevention or not.
Additionally, when a control group is used in a study, it is usually expected that they have some sort of placebo, or non-effective treatment to compare the researched treatment to. The college-aged women who did not receive positive affirmations were given no treatment whatsoever. This lack of a true control group makes it hard to know if the receiving of treatment at all could have caused a similar outcome in the research results or not.
Regardless of this study though, we do have enough research to prove that positive affirmations can be quite effective at combating our tendencies to dwell on the negative and ignore the positive. Whether or not it is a preventive measure is still undecided, but we do know that over time, affirmation can reduce stress, lower anxiety, and increase our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
If anyone is looking for techniques to give themselves a positive boost to their mental health, daily positive affirmations may be a great place to start, helping you learn to see the world differently and feel more confident with yourself. If you feel like you may be struggling with anxiety or depression, contact Right Path Counseling, today.