I don’t know about you, but I just love it when I come across something so very simple that can make such a big difference to my level of happiness. When this is also backed up by a ton of research what is there not to love! AND I get to use my very favourite Winnie the Pooh character to illustrate my Lifeline :). I really encourage you to try this and see how it makes you feel.
Here is a thought; what if you could be happier just by changing the way you walk? In addition to lifting your mood this simple change will make you sharper, improve memory and turn the volume way down on negative thinking. This simple trick switches your brain from negative to positive. It is so effective that for some people it is the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant.
Science tells us that regular exercise benefits both mind and body. There has also been a whole load of research and coverage in social media about the tremendous power of body language. Simply smiling alleviates stress and makes us happier. Amy Cuddy expands on this in her great TED talk the positive effect of striking power poses. So it comes as no surprise that recent research published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry shows that the way you walk, your gait, affects your frame of mind. In the study some of the participants were asked to walk in a gait that mimicked the movement patterns of depressedpatients (slumped shoulders, head bent forward,subtler arm swings).
Other participants were asked to walk in a happy gait (with a bounce in their step, more upright, greater arm swings). Each set of participants were told a set of words, both positive and negative, and then asked to recall them. The ones with a happier step recalled more positive words, those with a depressed body language recalled more of the negative words.
When you are depressed, or feeling down, you tend to pay attention to the negative events in your life and feel them more strongly than the positive. This can be self-perpetuating unless you find a way to break the cycle (we have all experienced that downward spiral at some point). Changing how you walk breaks that cycle. Even if you are just pretending.
You might like to try these things for instant results:
- To start simply notice how you are feeling. If you are sad or your mind is turning to negative thoughts or events decide if you would like to break free of that cycle. (This may sound like a silly question, but sometimes we need to really feel something before we decide to let it go.)
- If you do want to feel happier change how you are holding yourself. If you are sitting then relax your shoulders down lengthening your neck, take some longer easy breaths imagining filling your lungs like a balloon and stretching your rib-cage gently. Imagine there is a thread gently lifting you from the crown of your head. Feel the ground beneath your feet to literally ground yourself.
- Go for a walk. And as you walk gently draw yourself upright, breathe in the fresh air expanding your lungs, roll your shoulders back and slope your shoulders downwards, allow your arms to swing, bring a bounce in to your step. To further boost the feeling think of something happy, or someone you love. Check in with how you feel.