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The Surprising Link Between Body Language and Your Mood

The Surprising Link Between Body Language and Your Mood

One of the fastest ways to get stressed is to act as if you’re stressed.

Now, I’m assuming this isn’t your goal and I’m attempting to be light-hearted to make the point.

But let’s suppose you’re tired of being at peace and happy all the time and you want to feel just as stressed as the next person, well one of the fastest ways to achieve that goal is to move your body in a jerky fashion.

There’s a link between how we feel on the inside and how we express this on the outside. It’s why you smile and relax your body when you feel happy, and frown and tense your body when you feel stressed. You’re not remembering to move your face or body in those ways. It happens seemingly by itself due to this link.

But the link goes both ways. It’s bi-directional. Which means that what you do with your face and how you hold and move your body affects how you feel.

That’s what the link is. The inside and outside are in a sort of synchronisation. So whenever one changes, the other does too.

Change how you’re feeling, and your body follows you. This is why you smile when you’re happy or frown when you’re stressed or sad.

But the fact it goes both ways means that if you act as if you’re happy or stressed, the inside follows.

This is why moving your body in a jerky fashion – it usually works quite quickly, like a minute or two usually does it – can make you feel stressed. Now, of course, I am not suggesting you try this at home. I’m making light of things because I often find that people take positive things more seriously when we think it’s a negative thing first. Ah, psychology. 

The nice thing here is that we can usually feel a bit better if we hold our bodies in a more upright posture.

For example, slouching tends to make people tired. Some will say they slouch because they’re tired. That may be true. But they’re also tired because they’re slouching. It’s bi-directional! This was shown in a nice piece of research a few years ago where one group of people in an office environment had their backs taped to the chair for 20 minutes to keep their posture upright.

Afterwards, they felt more alert and more positive than everyone else in the office who were slouching.

Tiredness or alertness aside, we can also impact our feelings of confidence or self-esteem by holding and moving our bodies in a more “I’ve got this!” way.

The key for long-term results is practice. Just like you don’t just do one rep at the gym if you want to get stronger or more physically fit, you do multiple reps, the same is true here. Regular practice – like every day – of adjusting how you’re sitting or standing can work magic.

Sitting upright or straightening your back just the once might not cut it. But if you practice it every day, who knows what you might achieve!

Credit

David R. Hamilton PhD
After completing his PhD, David worked for 4 years in the pharmaceutical industry developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer. During this time he also served as an athletics coach and manager of one of the UK’s largest athletics clubs, leading them to three successive UK finals. Upon leaving the pharmaceutical industry, David co-founded the international relief charity Spirit Aid Foundation and served as a director for 2 years.

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