How Long Do Affirmations Take to Work?

Do you wonder how long affirmations take to work? We'll give you exact answer!
How Long Do Affirmations Take to Work
Image credit: Rebekka Dunlap

Overall, you’re a positive person. You meditate, practice deep breathing, but still, you wonder to yourself, “How long do affirmations take to work?”.

On average, you’re looking at anywhere from 26 days to a month. This is because any kind of behavioral change takes time and presents itself as a marathon—not a sprint. You pace yourself at the beginning and gradually build steady momentum.

In the case of dealing with more serious issues, like trauma or a major loss, more than a month might be needed. We recommend you to read our Ultimate list of 101 Positive Affirmations for Depression and Anxiety.

However, in either case, you can’t go wrong with a daily dose of encouragement and self-compassion.

Why do Affirmations Take So Long to Work?

As mentioned, exercises in self-affirmation might take around 30 days, give or take, to turn your manner of thinking around. One other fact to remember is that 95% of your thoughts bear a strong resemblance to the ones from the day before. So, you possess a lot of information to process in addition to what you’re currently exposed to.

As you know, some information gets stored in the subconscious. This portion of the brain can be quite stubborn and resistant to change, especially if it’s been exposed to constant negativity for months if not years. This would also explain the need for time and patience when incorporating positive affirmations into your regimen.

Thus, when adopting any new habit to bring about positive change, you will gain a realistic picture of how well it’s working if you repeat the habit frequently for an extended amount of time.

Does Research Indicate How long do affirmations take to work?

This phenomenon has been proven by studies that examine the impact of the regular usage of affirmations. In one case, a study conducted by a team led by David Creswell of the Carnegie Mellon University lasted just over a month. This time span was necessary for the participants to get accustomed to the change in routine along with the necessity of gathering of data.

Likewise, another study conducted by Christopher Cascio and a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and UCLA took four weeks to complete since they were focusing on how the brain is affected by daily positive self-affirmations (which alterations were noted over time). As you can see, one must exercise patience when waiting for results.

How can I Make My Affirmations Work Faster?

One other bit of information that you can glean from the fruits of Cascio and Creswell’s work is how to create or acquire affirmations that work more quickly.

The results of both studies showed that affirmations that are centered around personal values and other specific important matters of the here-and-now (as opposed to the past or any future aspirations) facilitated faster and more effective outcomes.

In other words, the more your own affirmations center on what’s important to you, the more quickly you’ll notice a change. That also means doing things that make you happy.

Another interesting factor from the aforementioned studies is how much faster a positive change takes place when positive self-affirmations are combined with other healthy practices such as physical activity or meditation and deep breathing.

What Are Examples of Effective Positive Affirmations?

We’ll give you an example. If you’ve ever been a fan of the Rocky Balboa series, specifically Part IV when he goes toe to toe with the power-house Drago, you might remember how his trainer repeatedly chanted with him, “No pain, no pain” right before he’d go back into the ring for another large dose of pain, of course…and eventual victory. (You might also guess that hearing the audience chant his name would also be affirming.)

Although this scene reflects the fact that the mind must align with one’s drive for victory, Hollywood succeeds tremendously at making a long process look so much shorter almost as if it only takes just a few hours or a few days.

Considering what the research says about affirmations and how long they take to work, you might go with statements that center on what you hold as important and valuable right at this moment. For example:

  • I love my family, and my family loves me.
  • When I fall, I get back up.
  • I determine my own direction.
  • I see the best in others.
  • I am a team player.

For more affirmations, feel free to check our 25 Positive Mantras For Positive Thinking.

Thus, when it comes to utilizing affirmations as part of a daily routine, you can count on making at least a month-long commitment to see some serious change.

However, you shouldn’t let that deter you from adopting this habit. Nor should you allow necessary perseverance to steer you away from this custom.

A positive mindset is worth working toward, and the anticipation that builds over the course of weeks serves to reinforce the appreciation for this journey that you’re starting.

Which Mental Exercises Can I Try to Make My Affirmations Work Faster?

In addition to healthy habits, here are some additional suggestions from Dr. Ronald Alexander to help you jumpstart the process:

  • List some of the negative criticisms that you’ve heard. Ask yourself if these words have a physical grip on any part of your body (i.e.: chest that tightens; aching head; tense neck muscles).
  • Then list positive judgments of yourself, especially if they’re the opposite of what you’ve been told or have come to believe. (i.e.: you have ingenuity; you are creative; you possess a strong work ethic). These will become your self-affirmations.
  • In the next step, you’ll speak the affirmation out loud for about five minutes.
  • The final step is the most important. As you speak the affirmation out loud, breathe in and then relax, breathe out and let go of any stress or negativity.

Basically, you’ll start pinpointing the baggage that needs to be dumped out and replaced with positive affirmations. Think of it as a mental “Spring Cleaning” where you clear out the cobwebs of negativity.  Challenging as the process might be, you’ll develop the practice of focusing more on what you value which should speed up the process.

Another approach is to write the affirmation multiple times in a notebook. The point of this experience is to see if your handwriting changes slightly over time while writing the affirmation. If you see a difference, positive thinking is starting to take hold of your consciousness.

How Long Do Affirmations Take to Work on Chronic Stress?

Depending on the severity and the catalyst behind the stress, again the 30-day standard applies to this situation. Nonetheless, you’re moving in the right direction because you’re taking on healthier habits that will promote an improved physical and mental condition.

After a while, you might also notice a change in how you cope with stress. You might even develop more resilience than you ever knew you had. Wouldn’t that be a month well spent?

How Often Should I Repeat Affirmations each Day?

The answer to that question is simple—as many times as it takes. Some experts recommend once a day right after waking up. Others claim that two to three times will give you more of a boost.

Some suggestions for multiple affirmation sessions include:

  • In the morning either upon waking up or before going out the door
  • At noon or when you have a break at work in order to recharge
  • In the evening or before going to bed to unwind and de-stress

Also, setting aside 10 to 15 minutes each day for repeating your affirmations is a great start. During this allotted amount of time, you would be speaking the affirmation aloud repeatedly.

Another possibility, as previously mentioned, is to include an activity, like walking or deep breathing, while speaking the affirmations. From there, you can determine the necessary regimen.

The Take-Aways

As you can see, determining how long affirmations take to work relies on a few factors. In fact, levels of stress or trauma and any previously held beliefs would impact the duration needed for the effects to “kick in.” Nonetheless, if you persevere with hope and consistent practice, you will take on a different outlook and adopt more constructive coping mechanisms.

As noted in studies, you can try affirmations that reflect your values and priorities since they tend to be more effective and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month to work. Even if you’re dealing with more major baggage, like a negative self-belief rooted in childhood or the aftermath of a toxic long-term relationship, then you can allow a positive manner of thinking to be transplanted by employing positive self-affirmations. But remember that it takes time and effort.

One recommendation is a 21-day consistent practice at the beginning of your journey toward a positive outlook. Another suggestion is to verbalize your values daily while incorporating another activity such as journaling, exercising, or deep breathing.

So, are you ready to embark on your journey to a stronger, better, more positive mindset? Armed with a plethora of positive affirmations, you’ll gain a whole other perspective on life.

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