It’s easy to get stressed in this world juggling work, relationships and all the life stuff in between. Sometimes when you’re stressed all you want to do is run away. As you sit staring at that difficult task that has to be done all you are probably thinking is how nice it would be to be sitting on the beach. Sadly though, that’s not always an option and sometimes you just have to push on through. So what can we do to help when we’re stressed but have to keep going?
We as humans wear our emotions on our bodies. When we’re happy we smile, when we’re angry we frown and when we’re sad we cry because how we feel affects how we look.
But did you know that the opposite is true as well?
How we look can affect how we feel.
Sometimes it’s possible to trick your mind into feeling better for a short period of time just by changing how you look. Here we have 3 simple tips to help you feel empowered instead of stressed out while you beat that looming deadline:
Yes it may be the last thing you feel like doing as you’re slumped over a computer frantically typing but studies have shown that just moving your mouth into the position of a smile, even if you don’t think you have anything to smile about, can make you feel happier . One study found that when they stressed people out and then tricked them into smiling without them realising (they put chopsticks horizontally in their mouth) they didn’t get as sad as those people who were stressed out and didn’t have chopsticks in their mouths . Not only that, but the people who were tricked into smiling while doing a stressful task had a lower heart rate than those who weren’t smiling while doing the same task.
Sit up straight.
When we’re stressed and unhappy we’re more likely to hunch over and bend our heads down to the ground. This is not only as sign of stress but may actually be making you feel worse than you need to. Studies have shown that sitting up straight while doing something stressful raises your self-esteem, makes you happier, less afraid and keeps you more alert. It even affects the language you use. People who were slumped over while stressed used more negative emotion words in a speech than participants who were made to sit up straight .
Stand in your power pose.
The way you stand or sit sends out nonverbal cues to people about how powerful you are. Imagine someone swinging on an office chair with their feet up on the desk and their elbows up around their neck. Now imagine someone on a chair on the opposite side of the desk with hunched shoulders and their hands in their lap. It’s easy to see who is the powerful person in this situation. You can trick yourself into feeling more in control and less stressed by adopting a power pose. Spread your limbs out and take up as much room as you can. Imagine that you are the confident CEO of a large company. Studies have shown that doing this for just 1 minute can change not only how stressed you feel but also how your body responds to stress. People who adopt a power pose have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and higher levels of testosterone than people who are hunched over in a powerless pose .
So next time you’re stressed sit up, smile and adopt a power pose. This should help to get you over the hurdle until it’s time to stop, take the Pip out and relax.
- Strack, F., L.L. Martin, and S. Stepper, Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: a nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of personality and social psychology, 1988. 54(5): p. 768.
- Kraft, T.L. and S.D. Pressman, Grin and bear it the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Psychological science, 2012. 23(11): p. 1372-1378.
- Nair, S., et al., Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychology, 2015. 34(6): p. 632.
- Carney, D.R., A.J. Cuddy, and A.J. Yap, Power posing brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science, 2010. 21(10): p. 1363-1368.