By: Maddie Boyer
Of all the ways to practice mindfulness, affirmations and gratitude are some of my favorites. I have gotten into the habit of starting my day with positive affirmations and ending my day with gratitude journaling. The last year has been extremely challenging in the world, and these practices can help challenge negative thoughts and boost self-esteem. In the few weeks I’ve been practicing this, I’ve experienced a noticeable increase in my mood and energy level. Here is some background information on why incorporating these habits into your life can be so beneficial!
Background Behind Affirmations and Gratitude
The success of positive affirmations are actually based on a psychological theory known as the self-affirmation theory. This theory suggests that if individuals emphasize values that are important to them, they will develop their sense of self and react more positively to situations that challenge this. By regularly affirming our self-concepts and positive attributes about ourselves, we strengthen our self-efficacy. We also view ourselves as more able to positively adapt to challenging situations and grow under pressure. The key to unlocking this is making it a habit. The more you practice affirmations, the more you will start to believe them and change your thinking patterns towards the positive.
Similar, gratitude can increase your happiness. When we express gratitude, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin, causing us to feel more happy and satisfied. The practice of gratitude can be extended not only towards others, but towards yourself. Expressing gratitude creates positive emotions that positively affect one’s health and happiness levels.
There are many benefits from practicing self-affirmations. Studies have shown that self-affirmations can decrease stress levels and make us more resilient. They can improve self-esteem and feelings of depression. The goal of affirmations is to shift negative thought patterns to positive ones. While manifesting these affirmations is not going to instantly change circumstances in your life, they will gradually shift your mindset surrounding those circumstances and help you feel more confident, positive, and in control.
Likewise, gratitude has many benefits. One benefit is improved health. Practicing gratitude can reduce pain in your body, cause you to sleep better, and strengthen your immune system. Mental health is often better in those that practice gratitude as well. It can also increase your happiness, from more positive moods, increased satisfaction, and improved alertness. Gratitude unsurprisingly has many interpersonal benefits as well. Relationships in which gratitude is regularly expressed often are happier and have stronger feelings of trust and loyalty. Gratitude can also cause better communication and empathy
Overall, practicing affirmations and gratitude can strengthen your relationship with both yourself and others. Whether you pursue this through meditation, journaling, or just reflection, the impact on your well-being can be profound. I find that I enjoy practicing self-affirmations first thing in the morning (here is my favorite guided affirmation meditation) and gratitude as the last thing I do at night as I reflect on my day, but whatever is most effective for you is perfect. Best of luck on your affirmation/gratitude journey!