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MIA BARNES shares some tips on intention setting to create positive affirmations for mental health and well-being.

How do you use affirmations in your life? Are they sayings you turn to for comfort in troubled times? You can also use them to steer your life’s course by speaking them as intentions.

Think about it – every existing built thing began as a simple idea. What makes the magic happen is aligning your actions with your vision. Speaking positive affirmations gives power to your truth, consciously and subconsciously aligning your behaviors with your goals.

Why and how to set positive intentions

Is there a difference between an intention and an affirmation? According to the Nth Degree Collective folks, intentions refer to your wanted outcome or goal, while affirmations direct your focus. Intentions are the “what,” while affirmations provide the “how.”

Look at this principle in action. What if you want to ease depression? You might use an affirmation as your intention, for example, “I am a positive person who makes the best out of any situation.” How can such a statement affect lasting change?

Every time you recite that intention, you remind yourself, “So what if I’m looking at a pile of lemons? How can I make lemonade?” You become more mindful of your current behaviors and how they influence your mood.

For instance, you probably know lying on your couch and surfing social media can make you feel worse when you have depression. Reciting your intention may prompt you to get up, step outside, go for a brisk walk, or make cloud animals until your mood lifts.

Use positive affirmations for intention setting as an alignment check for your body, mind, and spirit. When everything works together to manifest a goal, progress becomes easier. Reciting your saying is how you rotate your mental tires in order to keep everything rolling smoothly toward your desired outcome.

When to use positive affirmations for intention setting

You can recite your affirmations as often as you wish, or when you feel is necessary to be more grounded. Write your intentions on paper, put them in your planner, sew them into fun cross-stitch patterns, make them visible to ground them in your consciousness.

That said, reciting your intentions at certain times helps make the practice an integral part of your lifestyle. Set a reminder on your phone to meditate briefly on your affirmations at the following times:

First thing in the morning: The hypnopompic twilight hours make your brain more open to suggestions. Meditating on your affirmation when you first open your eyes sets the tone for your day.

Before big events: Take a moment to center yourself and recite your affirmation to induce calm.

To begin an important ritual: Many yoga classes begin by reciting an affirmation or intention. You can also use one to open a formal meditation practice.

When you feel unsettled: Your affirmation can help ground you when panic threatens.

At night before sleep: The hypnogogic period also makes your mind suggestible. Some people think reciting an affirmation before bed will help you find answers to your problems in your dreams.

Use positive affirmations for intention setting as  
an alignment check for your body, mind and spirit.   
When everything works together  
 to manifest a goal, progress becomes easier.

Sample positive affirmations that double as intentions 

What should a positive affirmation that doubles as an intention look like? It’s very similar to setting a sankalpa in Yoga Nidra. You’ll notice this is also an active “this is what is” statement, not a wish – for example, “Peace is my true nature” versus “I want more peace in my life.”  
Why is the phrasing of your affirmation-intention important? There’s a considerable mental difference between “this is” and “this will be.” When something simply is, it dictates your behavior in the present moment, not an elusive future time when the stars align and you have less stress.


Here are six sample positive affirmations that double as intentions:

I choose healthy practices for my body and mind 

This affirmation helps if you’re trying to overcome a bad habit or embrace a healthy new one. For example, use it when starting a new exercise program. You know the reality – inevitably life happens and prevents you from getting to the gym.  
Reciting it reminds you that one slip doesn’t have to justify 20 other bad choices. Maybe you didn’t make it to spin class, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that you’ll eat poorly while binging Netflix after arriving home. You can still do 15 minutes of calisthenics and stretching in front of the TV, and choose a salad over a pint of ice cream for dinner.  


I have ultimate control over how I handle my energy 

The reality of life is much of it lies beyond your control. Good people develop devastating illnesses, get laid off from their jobs, have their homes ransacked by thieves, hearts broken, and lives upended by dishonest or abusive partners.

The one thing you can always control is how you respond to things. You have 100% jurisdiction over how you handle your energy – this affirmation reminds you to direct it wisely. What can you do, given the reality you face? What is the best course of action?  


I am responsive and not reactive 

Many people live a considerable percentage of their lives in default mode, reacting to situations the same way they always have and wondering why little ever improves. The problem is learned experiences and reactions aren’t always the wisest and most beneficial.

This affirmation is fabulous when you’re working on improving your emotional regulation. It’s also beneficial for overcoming negative habits. For example, does a stressful day always leave you saying, “I need a drink"? What’s a healthier way to ease the tension?  



In the darkest winter lives within me an indomitable summer 

Even if you are deeply depressed, you can probably recall one time when you genuinely felt happy. Experienced yogis and meditators can manifest this emotion in their bodies, calling upon it whenever necessary.

Spend time in meditation, reliving the experience of joy. Feel it in every cell. Explore what parts of your body become activated. Then, use this affirmation to remind yourself you can evoke this emotion amid life’s storms. Remember – everything is temporary and this darkness will eventually pass.


Positive affirmations are perfect to  
use for intention setting. They take the “I will”  
out of the equation, transforming it into “I am.” 

I am mindful of how my energy affects others 

Other people can’t see the emotional turmoil inside you. All they see are your behaviors, which they interpret through their lens. You know you’re short-tempered because of stress at work, but the cashier only sees an impossible-to-please customer.

This affirmation reminds you to exercise your empathy muscle. Before you act, consider how your behavior will impact others and choose accordingly.


I actively create the world I want to see 

A lack of agency – the belief your actions can make a positive difference – lies behind many mental health disorders like depression. It’s true you might not be able to change the world single-handedly, but you might be surprised by how much power you have to affect your daily life.

This affirmation reminds you to become mindful of what you can change and inspires you to take action.

 For example, has litter taken over your favorite campsite? You could complain about people who don’t care all day – or you could grab some empty bags and boxes, and get the place spic and span in an hour or two.


Using positive affirmations to create your intentions 

Positive affirmations are perfect to use for intention setting. They take the “I will” out of the equation, transforming it into “I am.” The process takes the changes you want to see out of the elusive future and brings them into the present moment.

Follow the above tips to use positive affirmations for intention setting. Post yours where you see them often, get in the habit of reciting them throughout the day and watch your life transform.

Illustrations by LAKSHMI GADDAM 


Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes

Mia is a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in mental health, well-being and self-care. She is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online health publication,