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How do you feel right now as you’re reading this? Not just your mood, how does your body feel? What is it trying to tell you? Are your shoulders relaxed? Is your breathing steady? Are you straining your eyes, or tensing your jaw? Do you understand body language communication?
So often we go through the day unaware of the physical state our bodies are in. We know, of course, if we are wet or dry, hot or cold, inside or out, but how often do we stop to check in with our bodies and see how they are really feeling? Becoming aware of how our bodies react to the different experiences we face every day, as well as the different reactions we have to these experiences, can alert us to ways we may be making ourselves more tense, more angry, more unhappy, as well as what we can do to help change this.
Bringing Awareness To Our Bodies Through Body Language Communication
The next time you are feeling frustrated, try to notice what your body is doing. Are you holding your breath, or clenching your teeth? Are all of your muscles tense? Even a few, deep breaths can have an immediate change on your mood – a literal, chemical change, as your brain will release endorphins as you slowly exhale.
Pay attention to the rest of your body. Relax tight shoulders with a shoulder roll, or stretch your neck from side to side. Gently rub the sides of a clenched jaw. Smooth your hair back. Breathe deeply.
When we allow our bodies to relax, when we let ourselves know we are consciously releasing tension, our brain responds. It’s easy to do this anywhere – stuck in traffic, waiting in a long line, even during a trying conversation. Just bringing awareness to how you are holding your body and working your breathing lets you begin to change it, and changing how you physically feel can help to quickly improve your mood.
Sometimes, if I am anxious or have nervous energy, I want to fidget or pace, tap fingers or feet or play with my hair. I need to release some of my pent-up energy and work through my body’s “fight or flight” response in a more constructive way. Instead of pacing, I’ll do a few sit-ups or jumping jacks. Anything that works your body in a productive way helps – dancing, running in place, deep stretching – and after, you can relax into your releasing muscles, breathing deep and calming down.
Improving Our Moods
It works both ways. Be aware of how your body feels when you are relaxed, joyful or especially comfortable. How do you feel? What position are you holding your body in? How is your breathing? Is there a room in your home that helps you relax, or that brightens your mood? Are there certain clothes, pillows or blankets that you feel best in or on? Does a hot shower help you unwind more than anything else, or is a cool glass of water more your style?
When you also bring awareness to your body during positive moods and good experiences, you learn to recognize the things you can do when you are not feeling so good, to try and change your mood by first changing the comfort level of your body. Your body will talk to you when you are feeling good and bad, and you can use your body as means to improve your moods. You just have to learn to listen to your body language communication.