Anxiety is incredibly common in our modern world, affecting the lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Anxiety comes in many forms,disruptive low-grade anxiety, or more severe conditions. With around 40 million people recorded as sufferers in the USA alone, it's no surprise that anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental illnesses.
There are many methods for treating and managing anxiety, from therapy and counselling to medication and meditation. For those that like a positive approach, affirmations are commonly recommended as a way to minimise the damaging effects of anxiety. But the question is, do affirmations for anxiety really work?
Let's see if they do or not…
Affirmations For Anxiety - Do They Work?
Anxiety Is A Habit
Although the effects of anxiety can most definitely manifest physically, when you boil anxiety down, it stems from negative thoughts and beliefs. Most of these thoughts are at a subconscious level, making it difficult to catch them, let alone change them. Because your brain has had years of practice at being anxious, affirmations are not a quick fix. But over time, you can use them to reprogram your brain and change the way you think.
Like any habit, it is difficult, if not impossible, to go cold turkey. Replacing one habit with another is more effective. People who are trying to stop smoking are a great example of this approach. They usually need something else to keep their hands or mouth busy. Often dropping the cigarette and reaching for a healthy snack can become a new habit, with some time and dedication!
Stopping negative thoughts is even more difficult than giving up smoking, particularly when you are not even aware they’re lurking. But introducing affirmations forces your brain to think about something else. Over time, with a bit of perseverance, you can record over the top of those negative tracks playing in your subconscious with a positive alternative.
Create New Truths With Affirmations For Anxiety
There is some science to back the power of affirmations. Continually repeating a statement over long periods actually forms new neural pathways that changes your brain chemistry.
Throughout your life it is common to form certain beliefs about yourself that are not necessarily true. Often they will stem from negative experiences, self-doubt, low self-esteem and fear. The important thing to know is that the subconscious brain can’t tell a truth from a lie. It believes what you tell it.
All those years of telling yourself you are not good at this, or not brave enough to do that is merely programming. If you have programmed these thoughts into your belief system, it stands to reason that you have the power to program them out and instill new beliefs instead.
Although saying affirmations may feel ridiculous at the beginning, over time, your pathways will automatically adopt them. This doesn’t happen suddenly or quickly, it may take months of determined repetition. But eventually, you will find changes starting to happen. Even if you don’t find yourself believing it at first, it will have a deep unconscious effect.
This same formula is used in medical Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a common and effective treatment for anxiety.
Affirmations Help You To Cope In The Moment
Affirmations can ease anxiety attacks and help you cope at the moments when you need relief. They can act as a reminder and a wake up call to snap you out of the anxiety cycle. They give you some distance from the unpleasant thoughts and physical sensations you are experiencing.
During a period of high anxiety, repeating a simple affirmation such as, “Although I’m uncomfortable right now, I’ve dealt with this before and know that I’ll be fine,” can create a bit of head space and act as a coping strategy to get you through difficult situations.
There is no one quick and easy fix for anxiety. But, when you regularly practice affirmations, over time they can be a helpful part of a treatment program. They can also be an important aspect of changing negative thoughts and improving your life.
In answer to the question, ‘do affirmations for anxiety really work?’ it is safe to say, yes they do!