Do affirmations for anxiety work?

Anxiety can be a crushing mental health condition that impacts many aspects of your everyday life. When you’re spending hours of time every day battling stress, worry, fear, and nervousness, it can seem almost impossible to live a normal life and enjoy the things you once used to love.  

Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you improve your symptoms and take back control.  A popular and successful CBT tool for managing anxiety is: positive affirmations

Positive affirmations are powerful self-help statements that can help you change the way you perceive yourself and boost your confidence. The way you think about yourself has a direct impact on your actions and your belief in yourself

When you continuously tell yourself that you’re not good at something or you can’t cope with a situation, you begin to believe it and your actions follow your beliefs. When you frequently tell yourself that you are good at things and you can cope with any situation that life throws at you, your actions also follow your beliefs and you grow more confident.

Is it too good to be true?

There are many different methods for managing anxiety and distracting yourself from your symptoms. Could something as simple as telling yourself you’re confident and capable be enough to make it true? Research suggests it works.

A 2016 study focused on excessive worry, one of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders. In the study, 102 people with generalized anxiety disorder replaced their worries with words and pictures that depicted positive outcomes in the situations they were anxious about. A control group was also asked to use positive images, but these were unrelated to their worries.

After one month, the results showed that everyone who took part in the study benefitted. All participants, whether they were part of the generalized anxiety or control group, reported lower levels of worry and anxiety. This suggests that replacing worries with positive affirmations can provide great benefits, even when the affirmations are unrelated to the worry at hand.

It works for social anxiety, too

The act of repeating positive affirmations doesn’t just work for people with generalized anxiety. It’s a successful way of managing symptoms for people with social anxiety, too. 

People with this type of mental health disorder often experience a heightened sensitivity to others’ facial expressions. This often means they see negative social cues, such as looks of unhappiness or annoyance, as threats.

Research has shown that when someone feels threatened, such as by negative social cues, positive affirmations could help boost their self-confidence and self-worth. These simple phrases could help someone with anxiety feel less threatened and raise their self-esteem. 

Examples of affirmations for anxiety

There are two main types of CBT affirmations for anxiety: positive and neutral. Positive affirmations improve your self-image and make you feel more confident. They encourage you to tell yourself that you’re strong, brave, and capable.

If you don’t feel comfortable saying positive affirmations out loud to yourself, you can start with neutral affirmations instead. This kind of affirmation helps you accept a situation for what it is without judging or criticizing yourself. 

Positive affirmations

  • I feel comfortable in crowds
  • My past experiences can’t stop me from succeeding in the future
  • I am confident and relaxed
  • There’s no obstacle I can’t overcome
  • I am carefree
  • Just like before, I’ll survive this situation
  • I feel in control
  • I love and approve of myself
  • It is safe for me to speak up for myself
  • I am strong and brave

Neutral affirmations

  • This situation is neither good nor bad
  • I take deep breaths and my anxiety flows out
  • I can handle this
  • Some days are harder than others and I’m doing my best
  • I’m not going to give up
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • I can feel the fear and do it anyway
  • With time and effort, I’m getting better
  • I’m working on accepting myself just as I am
  • I’m taking steps to improve my life

When you need a little extra help

While anxiety is something you can manage and overcome, it can be difficult to do it on your own. If you’re struggling with severe anxiety, you may find the idea of attending a therapy session in person overwhelming. In this case, online therapy may be a better place to start

With online therapy, you can choose an appointment time that works best for you and attend your session from anywhere you feel safe and comfortable. It’s a great way of getting the help you need to start managing your anxiety without rushing into things and getting in over your head.

Make your first online therapy appointment today. Our Cyti therapists are expertly trained to help patients with anxiety improve their quality of life. You can choose the therapist you think will suit you best and talk to them whenever and wherever it suits you. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

About the author: Theresa Boswell

Theresa is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I relocated to California after a short period in Kansas in 2016.  Growing up in a large family has allowed her to develop unique experiences that she draws from to foster resilience and growth in her patients.

She has over 20 years of experience in counseling and in the field of social services.  She has recently been a leader with Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) systems leading change within Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) environments.  She received my education from the University of Wisconsin’s educational system, with obtaining her master’s in Social Work from UW-Madison and her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from UW-Milwaukee.

Read more about Theresa here >>

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741