I have a confession to make. When I first heard about mirror mantras, I rolled my eyes. Talking to myself in the mirror+motivational quotes=Awkward. With a capital A. 

But the more I learned about mirror mantras, the more intrigued I became. Over the past several months, I’ve become more intentional about self-care routines, including starting a manifesting journal and using a daily affirmation app on my phone. Instead of shrugging off mirror mantras as too cringey, I thought, why not give it a try and see what happens?

After all, what’s the worst that can happen? I feel a little weird talking to myself for 30 seconds in the bathroom mirror. I could handle that. 

Related: ‘Self-care’ is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out 

I’ve been reciting a morning mirror mantra for a couple weeks now, and while there haven't been any struck-by-lightening kind of results, I have noticed subtle changes and benefits. Sure, it feels a little Stuart Smalley-esque, but it works.

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What are mirror mantras?

Mirror mantras are essentially what the name describes. While looking at yourself in the mirror, you give yourself a verbal pep talk. You say aloud what you wish for the day, who you want to be, or how you want to act. The mantra or affirmation can be anything that is positive, empowering, or encouraging. Some common examples include things like:

You are enough.

I am kind. I am capable. I am at peace. 

This too shall pass.

May I have a peaceful day.

I am worthy.

I am beautiful inside and out.

You are loved, and you are loving.

You can recite the mantra or affirmation one time or multiple times. You can recite one or many mantras. You can use the first person (“I…”) or second person (“You…”) with your statements. Personally I use the same mantra every day but I repeat it three times.

If you need some inspiration, check out Jessica’s Daily Affirmation (#affirmationgoals):

What are the benefits of mirror mantras?

Experts say that mirror self-care routines can offer a number of benefits, including increased self-awareness, a shift in perspective, reduced social awkwardness and an enhanced connection with our bodies. But it’s important to use the mirror in a positive way. Tara Well, associate professor of psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University, wrote in Psychology Today, “looking with kind intention can reduce anxiety, whereas looking without kind intention can allow the inner critic to run amok.”

1. I accept myself more

Before I started mirror mantras, mirrors were often a source of critique and anxiety. I saw my forehead wrinkles and dark undereye circles. I zoomed in on flaws and quickly looked away. But since doing mirror mantras, I see myself differently. I’ve started to see my face (and body) as a unique and evolving human body. I’ve stopped cringing and started to smile at myself when I recite my morning mantra. I’ve started accepting myself a little bit more.

2. I feel more empowered

Mirror mantras have also empowered me to use my voice. I started out whispering mantras into the mirror, but lately I’ve noticed that my voice has gotten louder too. As a result, I feel more empowered to share my concerns, express my needs and have difficult conversations with people.

3. I am calmer

Since I’ve been doing mirror mantras, I have felt calmer and more patient. It’s hard to know if my calmer demeanor is the result of mirror mantras, work I've done in therapy, or simply that my kids are back in school and we’re on some kind of routine. Mom rage is (mostly) kept at bay and I generally feel less anxious. When I feel upset about something, I’m much more likely to confront it or let it go. 

Related: Errands and showers are not self-care for moms 

4. I’m talking to my kids about intentional self-care

I tried to recruit my family to my mirror mantra experiment, even offering them a reward if they did it for two weeks. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any takers yet. Nonetheless, I keep asking them if they want to try it and I talk to them about my experience with mirror mantras. In doing so, I hope that I am instilling in them the importance of self-acceptance and self-care. I hope that I am showing them that we’re never too old to try new things, including new morning routines that might seem a little cringey at first. And, above all, I hope I am showing them the importance of loving ourselves so that we can better love others.