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How to create and use affirmations to relieve stress and change your mindset

Words matter. They help shape our thoughts and beliefs. And when repeated over and over again, they shape our realities.

I’ll share a way to use words to your advantage to relieve stress and, eventually, change the way you see the world or yourself. We’ll harness the power of words into affirmations that you can use in times of stress to help you reorient your thinking towards something more constructive.

What is an affirmation?

In the simplest, most basic term, an affirmation is a phrase that you can use to help you re-set and re-center. When you're stressed, you can pull from your handy tool box of affirmations to bring your into a place of intention and alignment instead of fear or overwhelm.

How to create affirmations

Creating an affirmation is similar to setting intentions.

Start with self reflection for what would be most supportive for you

Think back to a time when you were stressed. Can you remember the stories you told yourself or the beliefs you held about that situation?

This is an opportunity to practice svadhyaya (self study) to get to know yourself: how you think and react. This helps uncover patters or conditioning that keeps you from the highest, most true, version of yourself.

Like Shrek and onions, you have layers that surround your true essence. These layers can be things you were told as a child, the messages you get from the media, or even the ways that you try to fit into a work place that doesn't really fit who you are.

Each time you peel back these layers, you're able to see the stories surrounding your life. You can choose if you'd like to hold onto those stories or not, and decide how to live with more alignment.

Please note that these stories served a purpose at one time. They got you to where you are today, and you do not need to hold shame around them. If you'd like to release that story, see if you can thank it for what it has taught you and how it has helped your survive up until now.

What do you need to hear to help turn your mind around? What do you need to hear for support?

Now that you know the story and belief you have around a stressful situation, what support, belief, or feeling would you like to have if this happens again. Your affirmation will be born from that new direction, support, or feeling you'd like to bring into your life.

To make this a little more tangible, let's use an example.

A woman who wants to move out of the city she grew up in, but is afraid she won't be able to take care of herself if she goes out on her own. The new feeling she wants to create is self-assuredness and confidence. She wants to believe that she is capable of taking care of herself and she will succeed when she moves.

Make it in the present tense

The present tense is the only place where we can affect change. Putting your affirmation in the present tense instead of "I will" or "one day" puts your subconscious brain into motion towards finding a solution and getting you to where you'd like to be.

Make it positive

Instead of "I don't want..." or "I don't..." use "I am or "I have" statements.

It’s easier for the mind to figure out a “do” than a “don’t”. With a “don’t”, you have to start coming up with possibilities of what to do, decide if it’s the right thing to do, and then do the right thing. With a “do”, you’ve already cut out steps one and two. All there’s left to do is to do it.

Coming back to our example, the woman would benefit from an intention of "I am confident and capable of taking of myself wherever I live."

How to use affirmations

Creating your affirmation is only one part of the process. You need to use it, repeat it, notice any resistances and stories that come up, and address them. This is where the real magic happens. Here are some ways to use affirmations as a touchpoint to refocus and reorient your mind

Write it down and place it where you can see it

Make your affirmation into a physical reminder that you can look at and be reminded about again and again. Seeing it helps to set it at the forefront of your mind.

  • Put it in a place that you look at a lot.

  • Write it on your mirror so you can see it when you get ready for your day.

  • Post it on sticky notes around your house.

  • Put it in a spot where you know you're most susceptible to falling back into the old pattern your affirmation was created for.

For example, I keep a keychain from Your Joyologist that says “I Am Enough” on the cork board by my desk. I have a tendency to go into comparison mode when I work, and the keychain helps remind me that the work I do doesn’t have to be perfect. I do not have to be better than anyone else for my work to be meaningful. I am enough.

A keychain that says "I AM ENOUGH" is hanging on a cork board to the left of a dry erase board. The words on the dry erase board are blurred.

Repeat it during japa meditation

Repeating a mantra in Japa meditation, or in this case an affirmation, to create new connections in the brain and produce new thoughts and habits. You can use a mala as a took to help you focus and keep count of your repetitions.

If you're looking for a mala, you can purchase a one from Maha Mala. They're made and sourced in India, where the tradition of yoga comes from. The creation of each mala is interwoven with the diverse culture of India. The stones and silver are hand sourced from Jaipur, Northern India, and the Ahimsa silk is farmed by not killing the silkworm. Plus, Maha Mala supports local charities and foundations in and around Delhi.

Repeat it when you get in that situation you thought of earlier

After seeing your affirmation around your space and repeating it during meditation, you'll begin to get familiar enough with the words and the feelings surrounding it. This helps to build your capacity towards that new belief and create new pathways in your mind around it.

When you get into the situation or mindset that your affirmation was created for, use it.

When Brene Brown is in tough conversations, is being held accountable, or is called to unlearn something, she repeats, "I'm not here to be right. I'm here to get it right."

Practice the 5 PRs

This is a technique that utilizes acupressure points, tapping, and your affirmation in order to re-align your entire being towards your affirmation.

What to do when you come up against a block?

If you’re having trouble coming up with an affirmation or figuring out how to practically apply it in your life, feel free to set up a private yoga session with me. I help people create routines and practices that bring yoga and mindfulness into their lives.

Sometimes we come to a point that’s too engrained for us to work through on our own. That is the perfect time to work with a therapist or mindset coach. These people can be a mirror and guide to reflect what you're not aware of and ask questions that uncover limiting beliefs while holding compassionate space.

Final Thoughts

Affirmations are meant as a tool to help you rewire and re-center your thoughts.

Please share in the comments which way to use affirmations would work best for you or if you have any questions.


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