Affirmations to Combat Stress
Proverbs 8:21 Declares, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” The creation story tells how God spoke all life into existence. Is it a wonder that we who are made in His image, carry great power in our words? Researchers have found that speaking affirmations produces clear positive changes in the mind that help people feel more calm, at peace, and even decrease sensations of pain. While it is often true that we speak from what we feel, affirmations speak to change what we feel about ourselves or our circumstances (when what we feel is predominantly negative). The apostle Paul describes a similar idea in Romans 12:2, of “Being transformed by the renewing of your mind” although the end goal here is not just to feel better, but to come into alignment with God’s good will for both you and the world.
Regardless of faith, anyone can benefit from affirmations, which have the potential to rewire harmful or negative thoughts and thought patterns. A key to powerful affirmations is mindfulness. With mindfulness we can combat our stressors head on with our affirmations. Mindfulness is increased awareness of what we think about and how our thoughts make us feel. If we notice that we often feel anxious and stressed, then it would serve us well to ask ourselves, “What am I focusing on?” We often fail to realize that we have the power to choose what we focus on. Scripture instructs us to focus on whatever is good, true, lovely, admirable etc.. We can actively work to reduce stress by shifting our focus as needed. This is a discipline that takes time to develop, and is so worth our while. When we recognize negative thoughts, we can produce specific affirmations to combat them. If, as a pregnant mother in this crazy time of COVID-19, your thoughts about the crisis and all the unfortunate restrictions have you filled with anxiety about what it will look like when the time for your baby to be born comes, you may choose to shift your focus to what is good nonetheless, or what gives you hope. Maybe affirmations like, “I am strong, I am adaptable,” or “My baby will be born when and where he/she is meant to be born,” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” While our words are powerful, don’t expect your less positive feelings to shift immediately. It takes time to shift beliefs rooted in feelings, to feelings rooted in beliefs.
I believe inviting God into this process is the most transformational. In drawing near to God in prayer, mindfulness naturally arises along with His affirmations for us. In the intimacy of prayer, His Spirit guides us in the process of renewing our mind. As we see ourselves more honestly in the light of His love, we do not feel shamed by our shortcomings, but empowered to be transformed. I find in this place, he often impresses His own positive thoughts/affirmations over us. This may just be a deep sense of His unconditional love, of His Presence with you, of His power in you to do what He has called you to do. In this place of knowing, fears and anxieties lose their grip. This is where we experience peace that passes understanding.
I desire all people to have this peace, and hold a special place in my heart for the pregnant mamas in this especially difficult season. My spirit breathes in deep and sighs with you, acknowledging the struggle. Having peace does not mean ignoring the problems at hand. Many define affirmations and positive thinking in this way and I do not believe that is ultimately helpful or healthy. It’s easier said then done though: finding peace with mindfulness, affirmations, and/or an active prayer life, but they are well worth the effort. Please feel free to reach out if you would like help in any of these areas.