10 Positive Affirmations to Say in the Mirror Every Morning for Your Mental Health
Experts say you can retrain your brain to be more positive and stress-resilient by practicing these easy-to-remember affirmations for mental health.
How we speak to ourselves is more powerful than you may think, but it’s not just about limiting negative self-talk. Positive affirmations for mental health are deliberate statements that aim to challenge negative thoughts and reinforce your value—and research has shown that practicing them in your daily life can reduce stress, increase well-being, improve performance, and make you more open to positive change.
“There is evidence from MRI scans that suggests certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmations,” says Holly Schiff, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist with South County Psychiatry in Connecticut. “Using positive and optimistic words stimulates frontal lobe activity,” Dr. Schiff explains, “and if you sustain positive thoughts, functions [in your brain] start to change.”
In this way, positive affirmations can work to train your mind, giving you the ability to shape your reality.
How to use positive affirmations for mental health
Effective positive affirmations are about identifying and reinforcing what you truly value about yourself. “[It’s] not buying into some untrue or over the top positive statement,” explains Gail Saltz, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the How Can I Help? podcast. The benefits don’t come from chasing perfection, either.
Instead, Dr. Saltz says, think of using positive affirmations as a way to reframe your perception of how capable and worthy you really are. With practice, these self-worth and value-driven statements become your mind’s truth—helping you forge a resilient sense of self that can drown out the mind’s anxieties, negative thought patterns, and ruminations.
But like building any muscle, it takes regular practice for these new neural pathways to form. So even if it feels a little silly at first, identify positive affirmations that authentically speak to you and repeat and embrace these messages daily, says Ellie Borden, a registered psychotherapist in Ontario, Canada. “This can reprogram your thought processes and enhance your mental health.”
Borden, Dr. Saltz, and Dr. Schiff offer their favorite positive affirmations for mental health to help you get started.
Positive affirmations for mental health
1. I am good enough, I am worthy
This affirmation helps develop this sense of self-esteem, reminding you that you deserve love and respect. “It can counter self-doubt and sentiments of unworthiness that a lot of people go through, especially in the advent of social media where comparisons can engulf individuals with unworthiness,” Borden says.
“No one is perfect,” Dr. Saltz adds. “Being able to acknowledge shortcomings and work on them without devaluing yourself is so important.”
2. I am a good person
“I like this one because it uses the present tense instead of something like ‘I can become a good person’,” Dr. Schiff says. “You are focusing your attention on shifting your beliefs rather than setting a goal.”
It also highlights the positive and shifts your mind into thinking in a more beneficial way—in this case, about yourself as a person.
3. I am capable of achieving my goals
This positive affirmation for mental health puts your capability front and center to inspire confidence and recall your skills. “It encourages you to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals,” Borden says. “It can also provide that kickstart someone needs in a day to fuel motivation throughout the rest of the day.”
4. I am allowed to take care of myself
This is a big one! This affirmation emphasizes the importance of self-care and meeting your own needs. “People feel guilty or bad when they put themselves first or do things to take care of themselves,” Dr. Schiff says. “But this affirmation is a nice reminder … Give yourself that permission.”
5. I have agency and power over myself
We cannot control everything around us—and this positive affirmation for mental health reinforces that fact—but it also reminds us that we have the ability to choose our reactions and responses, Dr. Saltz says. “[This affirmation] serves most people very well.”
6. I am grateful for all of the blessings in my life
This affirmation encourages a grateful and appreciative attitude. “Concentrating on the positive aspects of your life can boost your overall happiness and divert your attention from the negative,” Borden says. “This can further help if you start counting your blessings. It might sound cliche, but it may give you an attitude that appreciates and gives gratitude to every single minute thing you encounter on that day.”
7. Thoughts are just thoughts, behaviors I can control
Dr. Saltz says many people are consumed by ruminating negative thoughts, contributing to issues like anxiety and depression. Acknowledging that thoughts are just thoughts, not actions, is valuable, she says. “While recognizing a thought doesn’t mean you have to do a certain behavior—and, in fact, those you can control.”
8. I embrace change, and I grow with every challenge
This affirmation promotes resilience and a positive outlook on change and obstacles. “It reminds you that obstacles can be opportunities for personal development and growth,” Borden says.
9. My thoughts and feelings matter
Sometimes people feel invalidated by others, and that their thoughts or feelings aren’t important, Dr. Schiff says. “This affirmation is a way to self-validate that your thoughts and feelings are not only valid but important, and they do matter.”
10. I forgive myself and release any past mistakes
This affirmation encourages self-compassion and the abandonment of self-blame and remorse. “It enables you to proceed forward and concentrate on personal development rather than dwelling on past errors,” Borden says. “This is bone-deep effective for individuals trying to be the best version of themselves and working on getting rid of internal self-loathing.”
Holly Schiff, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist with South County Psychiatry
Gail Saltz, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the "How Can I Help?" podcast
Ellie Borden, registered psychotherapist and clinical director of Mind By Design
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: "Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation"