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December 2, 2021 — 13:10 PM
Everyone’s heard of affirmations: I am strong, I am loved…you get the gist. But is there anything actually to affirmations as far as their ability to reduce anxiety?
As neuroscientist and author of Good Anxiety Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., explained on a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, there certainly is. Here’s what she had to say, plus how to take your affirmations to the next level.
Do affirmations really help with anxiety?
First things first: While Suzuki notes there isn’t much science behind affirmations as they relate to anxiety, she does tell mbg that we know enough about affirmations, in general, to still count them in.
“We do know that positive spoken words, positive affirmations, can improve mood relative to […] something neutral,” she explains, mentioning research that has demonstrated this.
In fact, in one study on affirmations and the brain, affirmations were found to light up areas in the brain associated with self-related processing and rewards. Additionally, another study found affirmations resulted in “modest” reductions in anxiety in the participants.
How to take your affirmations to the next level.
If you’re interested in using the power of affirmations to help with anxiety, Suzuki has one main suggestion: Pair those affirmations with physical exercise. (She actually used to teach a form of exercise called The IntenSati Method that involves pairing different moves with affirmations.)
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“We know that exercise improves mood and many other cognitive functions, and so put it together in IntenSati and that suggests that we get a particularly good mood boost,” she explains, “because we’re getting the affirmation boost and the exercise boost. And we’re getting cognitive improvements as well.”