Positive affirmations are thoughts or phrases used to increase optimistic feelings and counteract the effects of negative thinking. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself may help retrain your brain to think in a more balanced way.

The brain has a naturally developed ‘negativity bias,’ [which helped keep] the earliest humans alive and fairly safe. However, in modern times, this same mechanism means that we are pre-wired, to some degree, to see the negatives in each situation more predominately than the positives. Positive affirmations may help counteract this negativity bias.

To start practicing positive affirmations you could try:

  • setting aside a few minutes to repeat one affirmation right when you wake up or immediately before bed
  • writing an affirmation on a sticky note and placing it on your bathroom mirror and repeating it every time you see it
  • adding affirmations to your daily exercise, commute or relaxation time

If you want to get started but don’t know where to begin, these 18 phrases may be a good place to start:

  1. I am safe right now.
  2. It is not my fault that I have depression.
  3. There are reasons for my depression, and I will overcome them.
  4. I am strong and resilient.
  5. I have made it through other challenges, and I will make it through this one.
  6. My depression does not define me.
  7. I have agency in my life, and depression does not need to control me.
  8. I am valuable even when I am not productive.
  9. I deserve happiness and joy.
  10. I am enough and don’t have to prove anything to anyone else.
  11. It is OK to feel sad today because tomorrow is a fresh start.
  12. I am not alone with my depression because many people also experience it.
  13. I am navigating depression as best I can.
  14. I am proud of how I got through this day.
  15. I am overcoming depression one step at a time.
  16. People love me, and I am worthy of their love.
  17. The negative things my mind says about me aren’t helpful.
  18. I am grateful for my [family, friends, animal companion, or anything you hold dear].

You don’t have to be a born writer to create your own positive affirmations. Any phrase that represents your situation or line of thinking in a more balanced way can help. After all, you know yourself best and what’s most important to you. You also understand what you need to hear to feel better. When you have an unhelpful thought, try to come up with statements that might contradict it. The goal of positive affirmations is to balance the negative thoughts, rather than eliminate them completely.