Mantras can be an effective complement to traditional mental health treatments for anxiety, depression, and emotional challenges.
When thinking of mantras, you might picture a group of people with their eyes closed repeating sounds like “om”. While “om” is, in fact, a mantra, it’s not the only one.
Mantras can be any words or phrases used to promote positive feelings or general well-being. Many people believe that mantras can be good for your mental health.
Mantras are a sound, word, or phrase typically used in mindfulness meditation, a practice for intentionally developing awareness of the mind and body. They help drive out distractions, quiet intrusive thoughts, and ground you in the present moment.
Although similar, they aren’t the same as positive affirmations. These are short, powerful words or statements designed to inspire and motivate you to take positive action or change in your life.
Still, there’s a fine line between mantras and affirmations. So, repeating words or affirmations in a rhythmic manner to help you concentrate, meditate, or ground yourself could be considered a hybrid of both tools.
In a 2018 review, scientists suggest that mantras may benefit your mental and emotional health. They could be a simple approach to mental health treatment that avoids the side effects associated with some medications.
Still, they note that more investigation is needed to better understand the role mantras may play as a therapeutic tool for mental health.
Although mantras may help manage the symptoms of some mental health conditions, it’s not a replacement for mental health treatment.
So, if you have concerns about your mental and emotional well-being, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can work with you to diagnose any conditions you may have and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
‘My feelings are valid’
Depression can sometimes cause unwarranted feelings of shame. Acknowledging that your feelings are valid can help dispel some of this shame and promote a sense of control over your depression.
Think about chanting this mantra either to yourself or out loud when your depression is causing negative feelings of self-doubt.
‘I deserve to feel better’
This mantra gently reminds you that yes, you matter. It can also help promote positive thoughts about yourself and reduce the feelings of low self-esteem associated with depression.
Anytime is a good time to verbalize this mantra. But it’s especially effective when you’re grappling with whether to seek the help of a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of depression.
‘Right now, I am OK’
Anxiety manifests from excess worries or fears that often result from mentally living in the future rather than the present. When anxious feelings begin to creep in, consider reminding yourself that at this moment, you are OK.
Repeating this mantra during an intense anxiety episode can help ground you and bring you back into the present. However, keep in mind that you may need to chant it repeatedly until anxious feelings pass.
‘My mind is creating this — it is not my reality’
This mantra can help remind you that intrusive and worrisome thoughts are most likely manifestations of your anxious mind and are not your reality. This can help separate you from your anxiety, allowing you to feel empowered to manage it better.
Repeating this mantra may be especially effective during anxious moments involving fears and worries about the future or when negative thoughts are causing uncertainty.
‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’
When thoughts are muddled, and you feel like there’s too much on your mind, you may experience mental fog.
Sometimes these intrusive thoughts involve other people’s problems — not your own. So, defining what’s actually yours to bear may allow you to release what you can’t control, creating the clarity you need.
This mantra is best employed during times when others confide in you about their problems, or you’re having difficulty maintaining focus in social situations.
‘One thing at a time’
Being overwhelmed by too many things can make it seem like your life is spinning out of control. This can lead to foggy thinking and the inability to determine what to do next.
Telling yourself to step back and deal with one thing at a time can help you organize the chaos in your mind and promote clearer thinking.
Repeating this mantra can help during stressful days at work or when you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done.
‘I give myself permission to rest’
Intense work schedules and the demands of daily life can sometimes cause burnout or other mental health concerns. This mantra reaffirms in your mind that it’s OK to rest and take care of yourself.
This mantra is best done right before you take a break, during a vacation, or when you’re feeling guilty for taking the rest you deserve.
Research suggests this classic mantra used for meditation may have a calming effect on the mind and reduce some forms of anxiety. It’s considered the base of all primordial sound and induces feelings of vibration throughout your body.
If you’re looking to incorporate this mantra into your daily routine, Dr. Hansaji Yogendra’s video “Right Ways to Chant OM” is one option to learn more about the technique.
Mantras and positive affirmations are two different complementary or alternative methods to manage certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. But they’re often merged into one technique.
Mantras are considered an alternative to evidence-based mental health therapies. It’s a good idea to talk with a psychologist, licensed therapist, or other licensed mental health professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment of any mental health concerns you may have.
If you’re looking for a therapist but aren’t sure where to start, check out Psych Central’s guide to finding mental health support.