Study Shows Daily Affirmations Can Boost Mental Health in College Students

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A recent study conducted by the University of California Berkeley suggests that daily affirmations could lead to significant improvements in mental health among college students.

Published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, the study involved 135 college students and revealed promising results regarding the benefits of practicing daily self-compassion through affirmations.

Led by Eli Susman, a psychology researcher at the University of California Berkeley, the study focused on the impact of daily affirmations on self-compassion, emotional well-being, and stress levels among college students. Participants were prompted to practice daily self-compassion by saying affirming things to themselves for 20 seconds per day for a month.

According to Susman, the practice involved placing hands over the heart and belly while thinking kind thoughts to oneself. This practice aimed to cultivate a sense of being a caring friend to oneself, especially during moments of self-criticism or difficulty.

Practice Daily Affirmations

The findings revealed that the daily affirmation practice was associated with greater self-compassion, emotional well-being, and reduced stress levels among college students compared to a control group. Moreover, the study highlighted that the frequency of practicing daily affirmations correlated with greater benefits, indicating the potential effectiveness of integrating this practice into daily routines.

Zachary Ginder, a psychological consultant and doctor of clinical psychology at Pine Siskin Consulting, LLC in Riverside, California, emphasized the positive impact that affirmations can have on behavior change and mental wellness, particularly among young adults.

Ginder highlighted that daily affirmations paired with self-compassionate touch or reflection can improve self-compassion and reduce stress and other mental health challenges.

Part of the appeal of these techniques is their accessibility and ease of implementation, as they can be practiced in a short amount of time and at no cost. However, Ginder noted that finding the right practice and self-talk language may require some trial and error, emphasizing the importance of maintaining healthy self-care practices in the long term.

Despite the promising findings, the study has certain limitations. Researchers did not assign how often participants practiced, and the study focused solely on college students in the U.S. Susman highlighted that the effectiveness of the practice was dependent on consistent engagement, with those who practiced more frequently experiencing greater improvements.

The researchers emphasized that while daily affirmations can serve as a quick self-care strategy for promoting self-compassion and emotional well-being, they should not replace therapy or more intensive mental health care for individuals who need it.

Ginder reiterated this point, stating that affirmations should be considered as a tool to be added to an individual’s existing self-care toolbox.

As the study sheds light on the potential benefits of daily affirmations for mental health, researchers suggest integrating this practice into daily routines as a way to cultivate self-compassion and reduce stress levels.

However, it is essential to recognize that affirmations alone may not be sufficient for addressing severe mental health challenges, and individuals experiencing such difficulties should seek professional help from licensed clinicians.


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