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Scientists Discover Our Walking Postures Affect How We Feel

Scientists Discover Our Walking Postures Affect How We Feel

Can you tell me how gloomy and sad people walk? That’s an easy one, you say. They usually have their head down, their shoulders are hunched, and they walk slowly with little arm movement. The way they are walking is a perfect reflection of how they are feeling. But what if it were true when it is the other way round? If people walk with a brisk pace and shoulders back as if they were happy, can that actually improve their mood? Happily, the answer is yes! This is the conclusion of researchers who wanted to see if faking a confident posture will really help you feel better.

“We don’t just fake it ’til we make it, we fake it ’til we become it.” — Amy Cuddy, psychologist, Harvard University

Poses affect how we feel

Researchers looked at animal and human poses, and the differences between power-focused poses and those of hopelessness were evident. There are numerous examples of this: A peacock fans its tail and struts when seducing a female, the CEO of a company sits back with his hands behind his neck with elbows pointing outwards while his feet rest on the desk, depressed people will usually display a pose which is closed, hunched down, and an indicative of powerlessness. This is also evident while walking. The next time you walk, note your posture and your mood. There is a real connection, it seems.

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The researchers were able to show that there were indeed physiological effects, such as changes in testosterone and cortisol levels, which matched the pose and the way people walked. They also noted that there were corresponding behavioral, physiological, and psychological changes. They knew that other research studies show that low-power people have generally bad physical and mental health. They also tend to have poorer memory and immunity.

How the research was carried out

Participants in the study were asked to look at a list of words which contained positive ones such as “happy” and negative ones such as “anxious.” They were then asked to walk on a treadmill. Their walking style was manipulated by researchers and noted. Afterwards, they were asked to remember the words they had been shown. Those who had been walking in a depressed fashion with less arm movement had better recall of all the words but tended to remember more of the negative words. The subjects who had walked with a happier gait had better recall of the more positive words.

The researchers had found enough evidence to justify their claim that a happier posture may have an important role in creating positive moods and energy.

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How this research can help with treatment for depression

In another study, the participants were primed with lots of words connected with old age and infirmity. They were then asked to walk down a hallway and they did so more slowly than the control participants.

It is well known that patients suffering from severe depression tend to remember negative events rather than positive ones. The bad memories make them feel worse.

“If you can break that self-perpetuating cycle, you might have a strong therapeutic tool to work with depressive patients.” — Prof. Nikolaus Troje, study co-author

Exercise is the most underutilized treatment for depression. If patients are encouraged to walk with a confident gait, they can reap even more benefits. The movement is encouraging the neurotransmitters and endorphins which will improve their sense of confidence. The happier posture will help them to become less depressed, more positive, and more energetic.

The next time you want to improve your mood, why not put a bounce in your step and see what happens. Just don’t fall!

“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.” — Charles Dickens

Featured photo credit: Antonio Foncubierta/Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life

How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life

There will always be times in your life when you may need to learn how to reinvent yourself. This could come when you experience a big change, such as leaving your job, moving on from a relationship, transferring to a new home, or losing a loved one. If you are going through a major shift in your life, you may have to find new ways of thinking or doing things, or risk failing to reach your full potential.

“When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

Many people who dared to leave their old unhappy lives enabled themselves to pursue their passions and find a renewed zest for living. You can also achieve the same if you take a leap of faith and make things happen for yourself.

To help you always be at your best wherever you may be in your life, here are some practical tips on how to reinvent yourself.

The Reinvention Checklist

Before embarking on a journey of self-reinvention, you need to make sure that you have everything that you need to make the trip bump-proof. These things include:

Resilience

Problems and obstacles are guaranteed to happen. Some of them will be difficult and may knock you off course; the important thing, however, is that you learn from these difficulties, never lose focus, and always get back up. This requires building resilience to get through the tough times.

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Support

Humans are social beings. Although it is important that you learn to rely on yourself when facing any challenge, it is also important to have a support team that you can lean on to give you a boost when things get too tough and to correct you when you’re making mistakes.

The key is to find the right balance between independence and dependence. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share the difficulties you’re facing. When you open up, you’ll find the people who are really going to be there for you.

Self-Care

During the process of learning how to reinvent yourself, you will have to pull yourself away from your old comfort zones, habits, roles, and self-perceptions. This can be difficult and cause you to question your self-worth, so it’s important to engage in self-care to maintain a positive outlook and keep your mind and body healthy as you face the challenges that await you. Self-care can include:

  • Participating in a hobby you enjoy
  • Spending time with your support system
  • Taking some time to walk in nature
  • Practicing loving-kindness meditation

Find what works for you and what helps you feel like your true self as you seek a reinvented version of you.

How to Reinvent Yourself

Once you’re sure that you’re equipped with all the tools in the self-reinvention checklist, you can begin your journey of learning how to reinvent yourself.

1. Discover Your Strengths

This step provides valuable information on how you deal with certain situations. If you have this information, you will be able to manage difficulties more efficiently.

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To find out what your strengths are, you can ask your friends and colleagues for feedback, engage in self-reflection, or try these 10 Ways to Find Your Own Personal Strengths.

2. Plan

This step calls for a thorough assessment of your current emotional, psychological, and financial status so that you can develop plans that are realistic and practical.

It’s okay to have ambitious dreams, but your plans have to be realistic. Making use of SMART goals can help you plan your life better.

You can also consult your mentor or life coach for practical tips and advice.

Ultimately, you’ll want to create specific long-term and short-term goals that you can create milestones for. By doing this, you’ll lay out a specific roadmap to your reinvented self.

3. Try Things Out

Sometimes, we don’t know if solutions actually work until we try them out. This is why it is important to experiment whenever possible, especially if you’re dealing with a career change. You may need to simply experiment in order to find the things you like. This can be the same with hobbies. If you’re not sure what you would like doing, accept invitations from friends to join them in their favorite sport or take a class, like pottery or photography.

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By seeing what’s out there in any area of your life, you’ll have a better chance of finding the things you enjoy and the goals you want to create.

4. Manage Your Finances Well

Changes may require a bit of money. If you’re shifting to a new career, you may have to pay for training. If you’re going through a tough divorce or having a hard time dealing with the death of a loved one, you may have to pay for therapy. If you’re moving to a new home, you’ll definitely have to pay a whole lot of expenses.

All of these things are possible, but it will require a bit of money savviness as you learn how to reinvent yourself. If you have that cushion, you’ll feel more comfortable straying from your current path to try new things.

5. Muster Your Courage

Fears and self-doubt may arise when you encounter difficulties and setbacks. Sometimes, they may also come when you’re taking risks. You have to manage these negative emotions well and not allow them to discourage you. Tap into your courage and try doing at least one new thing each week to develop it.

Learn how to deal with your self-doubts to move forward in this article: How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It)

6. Use Your Support Group

As stated above, you need to build a strong support group before you even start the process of reinventing yourself. Your group will keep you from taking wrong turns and encourage you when you get too weighed down by problems. Don’t be afraid to call them, or even ask them out for coffee if you need to vent about the current difficulties you’re facing.

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7. Remind Yourself Every Day of Your Commitment

Write your goals on different-sized cards and scatter them at home and at work in places where you can easily see them. This way, you will constantly be reminded of where you want to be. Remember, writing down your goals helps them stick[1].

8. Accept Failure, Learn, and Resume Your Journey

Failing is normal, especially when we’re trying out something new. When you fail, simply recognize it, learn from it, and move on. Failure, in the end, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work, and you simply won’t be able to learn how to reinvent yourself if you don’t accept the inevitable failures that await you.

Final Thoughts

If you truly want to learn how to reinvent yourself and live the life you desire, take the advice above and start taking action. It will take time, patience, and plenty of effort to make the change you want happen, but it will be all worth it.

More Tips on How to Reinvent Yourself

Featured photo credit: Ashley Rich via unsplash.com

Reference

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