5 Ways to Use Body Language to Boost Your Mood
Master these 5 body language tips and watch your mood shoot up and your confidence soar.
So what exactly is body language and how can you use it to boost your mood? We subconsciously use body language to communicate with others every day, although we tend to gravitate to the negative forms rather than positive ones without even realizing it. It’s not just a matter of our bodies responding to our feelings, how we carry ourselves has an immense part to play in determining our mood.
Poor posture such as hunched back and shoulders and hanging your head trigger a mental input loop to your brain to say you’re unhappy. It’s this mental input that puts you in an actual bad mood and results in more negative body language – and tada, a vicious cycle is born!
How body language affects your mood:
1. Eye contact and how it’s an important part of your body language
Eye contact is a crucial part of face-to-face conversation and therefore an important part of your body language, but many of us feel uncomfortable maintaining it and are unsure of what is considered as too much. A good way to determine if you’re making someone feel listened too or just creepily staring at them is the 50-70 rule. Maintain eye contact for 50% of the time while you’re speaking and 70% when listening.
Maintaining eye contact allows you to open up more and feel a stronger connection to the person you’re talking to, the other person will also feel like you’re listening and will want to continue the conversation.
It’s not just face-to-face conversations that you should consider when thinking about eye contact. When walking down the street try not to avert your gaze every time you pass someone. This displays shyness and we’re aiming for confidence. Shoot them a quick smile, this will make you feel good and will do the same to the person on the receiving end.
2. Facial expressions
Research at Ohio State University found that humans can make 21 distinct facial expressions, so it’s no wonder that this step is so vital to honing your body language skills. Facial expressions play an important role in how we’re feeling, many of us tend to spend most of the day staring at our phones or computer screens which puts a strain on our eyes causing us to frown and wince.
Without realizing it you’ve had a negative expression on your face all day which has been sending that input to your brain and now you’re in for an unpleasant evening.
This is when we need a ‘facial reset’. Take a minute away from your screen and find a mirror. Completely relax your face, start from your forehead and work your way down to your eyes, then nose, mouth, and jaw, relaxing every muscle as you go. Once your face is fully relaxed, force a smile. Smile as big as you can and make sure it reaches your eyes, keep this position for 20 seconds while looking at yourself in the mirror.
Even if you feel silly doing it you’ll find you feel better after. The muscles that are activated when you smile cause your brain to think that something humorous is happening and will release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins—our ‘happy hormones’.
An article published on Science Daily explains combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results of the meta-analysis, facial expressions have a ‘small impact on feelings.’
3. Walk the walk
Walking is one of the best times to practice using your body language to boost your mood as walking already helps release our happy hormones mentioned earlier. Walking in a way that expresses confidence will make you feel more confident, and confidence leads to a good mood. Like I said, your brain is unable to differentiate between you faking it and what you’re really feeling.
Make sure to keep your chin at least parallel with the floor or higher and your back straight, avoid looking down and hunching over as your brain views this as a self-protective ‘closed’ position and will cause you to feel insecure. Keep your arms loosely at your sides to maintain an ‘open’ and carefree position. Try smiling at people you pass, it will make you feel good for the kind action, and getting a smile in return will also boost your mood.
4. Strike a pose
A power pose does not always need to be a completely exaggerated over-the-top stance that we see in movies. Changes to how you position yourself can be as simple as rolling your shoulders back, keeping a straight back, and having your arms in an open position.
Avoid having your arms crossed in front of you as again, your mind sees this as a closed-off position and will not create that positive feedback loop that we want. The more room you take up, the more confident you will look and feel, for example being in a ‘starfish’ position with your arms and legs outstretched will make you feel more confident, though you may want to be out of view when doing this one!
Another, but more subtle one is the classic ‘wonder woman’ pose. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, arms on hips, chest out and head held high. Hold this pose for a minute or two and you will instantly feel a difference in your mood. Try incorporating a ‘power pose’ into your daily routine, every morning when you get out of bed hold whichever pose makes you feel best for two minutes and you’ve set yourself up for a great day.
Sit up straight
Feeling confident will always boost your mood. To feel confident even while sitting down, keep your body as open as possible, and don’t be afraid to take up space, as long as you don’t encroach on anyone else’s. Keep your back straight, chin parallel to the ground, and roll your shoulders back.
Do not hunch your shoulders, this makes you look smaller and is a ‘closed’ position that your brain relates with fear and self-protection. If you’re sat at a computer most of the day make sure the top of the screen is roughly at eye level, feet are on the ground and your chair is properly adjusted to ensure full back support, these changes will ensure you are keeping your posture in check.
Now that you’ve covered the 5 steps to using body language to boost your mood, go out into the world and put your new-found knowledge into practice. Use these steps daily and watch how your amount of ‘bad days’ rapidly decreases.
About the Author
Jasmine Davies left the world of property to become a freelance writer who believes there’s no limit to self-improvement and no such thing as too much laughter. You can find her latest thoughts and writing over on her Twitter page.