My three-year-old daughter has an adorable (and endearing) way of incorporating Daniel Tiger songs into several situations throughout our days. Whether she’s using her imagination, looking for ways to help around the house or going through her morning routine, there’s literally a song for it all. Perhaps my most favorite “strategy song” she belts out comes when someone is frustrated: When something seems bad, turn it around – and find something good! As a parent, I’ve really come to appreciate how these simple, yet powerful words can help children develop their emotional skills.
Speaking of simple, powerful words, I recently started exploring a positive affirmation practice as a way to navigate the daily stressors that come with the seemingly never-ending demands of life.
If you’re unfamiliar with such a practice, daily affirmations are, in essence, positive statements used to shift your outlook on life, with the goal of creating a deeper sense of well-being. They can help motivate you, boost your sense of self-efficacy, and work to replace unhelpful thoughts you might hold around challenging situations.
You can think of them as reminders for yourself to face whatever stressor or challenge is in front of you.
I’ll be the first to admit that repeating a positive phrase to myself throughout the day feels a bit silly, at first. But don’t let that stop you from trying out the practice. There’s well-established psychological theory behind positive affirmations, as well as science-backed evidence that supports their benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a daily affirmation practice:
- They can help you have a more positive outlook on life.
- They can help you release negative thoughts and emotions more quickly and with more ease.
- They help you maintain a stronger, more positive story about yourself – one in which you are flexible and capable of handling the demands of life.
- They have been shown to help lower stress levels, which has positive implications for our entire body.
In researching the benefits and evidence behind self-affirmation theory, a key takeaway for me was that the affirmations you choose to focus on need to align with your personal values – what you consider important – in order for them to make an impact. So, if an affirmation doesn’t reflect your personal ideals, move on until you find one that does.
Of course, when creating any new habit, you have to be consistent to see long-term improvements. But, positive affirmations are quick, short phrases that you can repeat as often as you’d like throughout the day – and there’s power in that simplicity.
I think there’s a pervasive belief in our culture that, in order for something to benefit our health, we have to work really hard to see the results (e.g. exercise and dieting). But, there are simple tools and practices (like daily affirmations!) we can do every day to powerfully support our physical and mental health.
As parents or caregivers, this also impacts the health of our children. When we practice positive affirmations, we’re modeling vulnerability and healthy self-care. We’re instilling the importance of mindfulness by monitoring our thoughts and choosing those that are helpful. This has lifelong implications for our kids, as we’re helping them build a positive habit from a young age that prepares them for future challenges they’ll face throughout their lives.
As we head into one of the most stressful seasons of the year, here are a few ideas to get you started in trying out a positive affirmation practice:
Daily affirmations for parents:
- I learn from challenges and am open to growth.
- I operate in the world with the best of intentions.
- I flow easily with new challenges that enter my life.
- I am patient, tolerant and tactful.
- My heart is open – I speak with good intentions.
Daily affirmations for kids: Keep them short and simple for kids so they can remember them:
- I am loved.
- I am safe.
- I am unique.
- I can do it.
Lindsey is a certified holistic nutritionist, mama, and co-owner of Nourished Food Co. She’s the creator of The Purposeful Food Journal An online course that helps people find easy ways to upgrade their diet and improve their health.