Instead of shaming ourselves into exercising, meditating, or eating right, studies suggest giving ourselves positive feedback works far better.
We mostly take our bodies for granted. Until our health falters, we assume that we are invincible. Once illness strikes, however, we realize we aren’t. In the words of Thomas Fuller, “Health is not valued until sickness comes.”
The statistics for making health behavior changes, even those that could be lifesaving, are grim. Post-operative heart disease patients are told that if they don’t make certain lifestyle changes, they will most likely die. Even with this warning, only one in 10 will actually make long-lasting changes in the way they live.
Interesting research is showing that affirmations can help make lasting lifestyle changes, and can actually make a difference in the brain. A study led by Emily Falk, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication, looked at how participants’ brains changed in response to receiving affirmation prompts that were supported by values they had chosen. By activating a specific area of the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making, and following up with specific suggestions for health behaviors, researchers found that participants who received the affirmations were much more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors.
Instead of trying to shame ourselves into exercising, meditating, or eating right, perhaps it’s simply a matter of giving ourselves some positive feedback and then reminding ourselves of what those behaviors will support in our lives. Try these affirmations on for size, and then honor your body with movement, contemplation, rest, and nourishment.
- I nourish myself on all levels.
- Thank you, body, for carrying me through my days.
- My heart is the seat of love, and a powerful tool for keeping me energized.
- I surrender to the beauty of life with my breath.
- I feel connected and rooted with the gift of my feet.
- I honor my strength by using my muscles to play.
- I acknowledge my hunger and fullness appropriately.
- I give my body the gift of sleep so that it may renew itself.
- I bow to my inner knowing that expresses itself through feelings in my body.
- I acknowledge and welcome all feelings that course through my body like waves.