For some people, anxiety is a paralyzing mental health issue that involves worry, stress, nervousness, and fear. Although therapy and medications may help, affirmations for anxiety are another option. Affirmations are positive, self-help statements that may help change an individual’s mindset and encourage positive behavior.

About 40 million adults in the United States live with anxiety disorders. It can be so overwhelming and disruptive that it becomes difficult to lead a regular life. Living with anxiety can be challenging, both for people with the condition and their loved ones. Some individuals may find that affirmations help reduce worry and increase self-esteem.

In this article, we explain how affirmations may help people experiencing anxiety, including some examples. We also provide information on other treatment options.

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Although there is little research into positive affirmations for anxiety, a 2016 study looked at excessive worry, a common symptom of anxiety disorders. The study included 102 individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.

The researchers asked them to replace their worries with positive pictures or words depicting potential good outcomes. A control group used positive images unrelated to their worries.

After 1 month, all of the participants benefited, showing decreased levels of anxiety and worry, with no differences between the groups. It appears that replacing worry with positive ideas has benefits even when these ideas are unrelated to the concern.

Individuals with anxiety issues, such as social anxiety disorder, may also have heightened sensitivity to people’s facial expressions. As a result, they may perceive negative social cues such as unhappy or disgusted facial expressions as threats.

Research shows that if an individual feels threatened, affirmations could restore their feelings of self-competence and self-worth. Therefore, using positive affirmations may help increase self-esteem and make a person feel less threatened.

The following are some examples of positive affirmations that people with anxiety can try saying out loud:

  • I am safe and not threatened.
  • I am in no physical danger.
  • I am confident and relaxed.
  • I feel comfortable in crowds.
  • There is no obstacle that I cannot overcome.
  • I am carefree.
  • I stay calm in new situations.
  • I feel in control.
  • I am strong and brave.

If a person feels unable to believe some of these statements, they can choose a neutral affirmation, such as, “This situation is not good or bad,” or, “I take deep breaths, and my anxiety flows out.”

Doctors may recommend therapy, medications, or a combination of the two to treat anxiety.

Therapy

Doctors may advise trying cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps those with anxiety by teaching them different ways to think, behave, and react to situations that typically worsen their symptoms. CBT focuses on finding the negative thought patterns and unhelpful behaviors that can trigger anxiety. It then helps people find ways of neutralizing these thought patterns and identify other ways of coping with difficult situations.

Another option is exposure therapy, in which a person confronts fearful situations and activities that trigger anxiety with the support of a therapist.

A person may undergo therapy on a one-to-one basis or as part of a group of people experiencing the same challenges.

Learn more about various types of therapy.

Medication

Although medication does not address the underlying cause of anxiety, it may help ease the symptoms. Doctors may prescribe the following classes of medications:

  • Anti-anxiety medications: These medications may reduce the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Benzodiazepines are the most common and effective option, but individuals can become tolerant of the effects and require higher dosages over time. Therefore, treatment courses are typically short. Buspirone is a non-benzodiazepine medication that may help relieve some symptoms of chronic anxiety.
  • Antidepressants: These depression medications work by helping the brain use chemicals that control emotions and stress. They may take several weeks to become effective, and an individual may need to try several options before finding one that works. Options include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
  • Beta-blockers: This blood pressure medication may help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a rapid heartbeat and trembling. Doctors may prescribe them for short-term use or as needed.

Learn more about medication for anxiety.

It is possible that affirmations could worsen anxiety for some people. Although many people find that positive thinking is a powerful tool for overcoming stress, others may find the opposite.

Although research into this area is lacking, there is some evidence that affirmations do not always help and can harm some individuals. For example, an older 2009 study found that a person’s level of self-esteem affected their response to this activity.

The researchers asked the participants to repeat the positive statement, “I’m a lovable person.” They found that the individuals with high self-esteem felt marginally better than those who did not perform this affirmation. However, the individuals with low self-esteem felt worse about themselves and experienced lower moods.

It seems that unless an individual already feels good about themself, affirmations may not work and could even have the opposite effect.

This study did not focus on individuals with anxiety. However, the results may still indicate the potential negative effects of trying to use affirmations as a treatment or coping method for anxiety.

People may wish to work with a therapist to identify the causes of their negative thoughts and discuss other potentially viable coping strategies.

Support groups are a potentially beneficial tool for dealing with an illness that affects both mental and physical health, such as anxiety.

Although individual therapy is a treatment option for anxiety recovery, some people may prefer to join a group so that they can form relationships with people who understand what they are going through. Meeting and talking with people who have lived the same challenges can help create a sense of hope and comfort. It can also help ease symptoms and build healthy coping strategies.

People can find both online and in-person support groups by using the following resources:

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Although people may find it difficult to talk about their mental health with others, they should contact a doctor when anxiety begins to interfere with everyday activities.

Individuals may not notice the symptoms of a mental health problem, which can increase gradually over time. However, if people become aware of the following symptoms, they should seek their doctor’s advice:

  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • negative thoughts
  • sleeping difficulties
  • not enjoying life
  • difficulties concentrating

If people begin to think or feel differently, and their symptoms are causing them distress, they should seek medical help. A doctor may prescribe medications or refer them to a mental health professional.

Anxiety is a challenging mental health condition that can affect a person’s daily life. Doctors typically recommend therapy and medications to ease the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety.

Some individuals may find that using affirmations for anxiety helps them cope. These self-help statements aim to change someone’s mindset and help them feel more positive.

Although there is little scientific research underpinning their use in anxiety, anecdotal evidence suggests that many people find affirmations useful.

If an individual is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, they should seek medical advice. A doctor can help put together a suitable treatment plan that includes therapy, medication, or alternative approaches.