Want To Improve Your Health? Believe In Yourself

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“I am enough the way I am.”

This popular, self-affirming mantra and others like it grant power to those in need of an extra boost of motivation. A new meta-analysis published on the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Character & Context’s blog confirms that self-affirmations can help us all achieve higher in many areas our lives — especially when it comes to our health.

Tracy Epton of the University of Manchester collected and analysed 41 studies involving self-affirmation practices, which include anything that helps people recognize their inherent value as individuals. She and her team found that overall, self-affirmation helped “improve message acceptance, intentions, and behaviour”

Specifically, the self-affirmations had a positive impact on improving health behaviours and lifestyle habits, particularly during a period of illness. “As self-affirmation works by reducing defensive responding when people feel threatened,” wrote Epton. “It could be that self-affirmation is most effective on more proximal health risks as they are perceived as more threatening (e.g., they are perceived as more vivid and relevant) than more distal risks.”

Interestingly, the impact of this self-affirming behaviour doesn’t change with the gender or occupation of the person — or even their socioeconomic circumstances: Last year, a study published in the journal Psychological Science revealed that self-affirming thoughts could help those in poverty perform better on problem-solving tests, and encourage them to seek outside assistance to improve their quality of life.

Even the delivery method had an insignificant impact — what mattered most is that it was delivered at all.


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