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Make Some New Year’s Affirmations

Make Some New Year’s Affirmations, Affirmations,

Every time the calendar changes to the new year, we feel compelled to make resolutions for all the ways we’ll become better people. We’ll exercise more, eat less, learn to play an instrument, plant a garden, volunteer, etc. Of the 40% of us who make New Year’s Resolutions, more than half of us will give up on them after 6 months. Failing to achieve the goals we set for ourselves can be stressful. It can induce feelings of shame and guilt. We end up feeling hopeless that we can ever change. 

If you suffer from a mental health disorder, setting resolutions for the new year can be even more discouraging. Failing to achieve your resolutions can trigger intense levels of depression and anxiety, making it even harder to accomplish any long-term goals. 

So how can we honor the new year and the sense of hope it instills without setting ourselves up for a big fall? We suggest trading resolutions for affirmations. 

What are Affirmations?

Affirmations are short statements that celebrate and encourage the best parts of ourselves. Resolutions say, “I want to be….”; Affirmations say, “I am…” The focus shifts from a sense of lack (I’m not enough) to a sense of abundance (I have all I need). When we repeat affirmations to ourselves, we counteract the negative thoughts that our brain seems to churn out without our conscious effort. 

For example, most of us tend to have the thought, in one form or another, of “I’m not good enough.” An affirmation that can counteract this thought might be, “I accept and love myself for who I am” or “I work hard and am worthy of accomplishing my goals.” 

Affirmations are like mantras, positive repetitive statements that are used to override our tendency toward pessimism and negativity. 

How Do Affirmations Work?

According to, the concept of affirmations is based in a psychological theory called self-affirmation theory. Studies show that self-affirmation helps us boost our self-integrity–that ability we have to feel capable of handling life’s challenges and adapting to different situations. 

One of the ways we build self-integrity is by acting in ways that are praise-worthy. In this sense, we don’t tell ourselves, “I’m a reliable and fun coworker” as a way to praise ourselves; we say it because we want to become it. Affirmations, then, are goals we have for ourselves that are stated in the present tense, as if they are already true. 

The upside of taking this approach to goals is that it focuses on the positive outcome rather than any deficit. 

Still not convinced affirmations have real benefit? Let’s look at the neuroscience involved. MRI evidence suggests that “certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks.” Another study suggests that practicing affirmations helps us better handle information that we might otherwise perceive as threatening. For example, if our boss or spouse criticizes something we’ve done or said, we are more likely to hear it and respond to it in a positive way rather than shutting down in defensiveness. 

How Can Affirmations Help Us Change?

According to Forbes magazine, affirmations can help us to:

  • Rebuild confidence
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Accept our reality and see situations more rationally
  • Solve problems more effectively

Affirmations help us learn how to love ourselves. Self-love means “having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others.” When we’re feeling confident and capable, we are much more motivated to make choices that support our health and well-being. We don’t have to bully ourselves into being “better” – we believe that we are, right now, worthy of good health, good relationships, fulfilling work, and happiness. 

Do Affirmations Help with Mental Health Disorders?

If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness, the first step is to seek professional help. A facility like Raleigh Oaks offers the medical, psychiatric, and therapeutic interventions required to stabilize someone going through a mental health crisis. Once the crisis has passed, the effort shifts toward maintaining long-term recovery, which may include medication and continued therapy. 

Affirmations cannot replace professional treatment, but they can be a wonderful complement to it. So much of mental health has to do with thoughts. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) work to help clients become aware of their negative thinking patterns and practice shifting toward the positive. An affirmation practice ties right into CBT principles. 

How to Practice Affirmation

A quick internet search will reveal countless articles about how to create affirmations that work for you. VeryWellMind, for example, lists 25 affirmations you can use or adapt that relate directly to mental health concerns. The important thing is to practice affirmations daily. Only repetition will help create the neural pathways that lead to better mental health. 

As 2024 approaches, consider setting aside the resolution mindset and adopting an affirmation mindset. Make the new year one in which you retrain your brain to focus on the positive. And if you need help with your mental health, reach out to our team in Garner, NC, any time this year. 

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