by: Kathy Gates, Professional Life Coach
Have you ever walked by someone’s office (or even in the grocery store) and noticed them just standing there smiling? They are practicing the ‘added advantage’ of body language to not only project a better image in the world, but to feel better and relieve stress for themselves.
Body language 101 is ‘sit up, look the other person in the eye, and smile’. We all learned it as children, and fine tune it to meet prospective employers, or prospective spouses and friends.
But let’s look at the added advantage of using these body language basics to help you feel happier and less stressed throughout your week:
(1) Sit up: The best way to exercise control over your present body language is to get up and walk around a bit. This is actually a bit of a cheat, because what getting up and moving around does is make you take a deeper breath. During stress, we have a habit of beginning to take shallow breaths, and that deprives our bodies of the oxygen it needs, and makes the brain muscles constrict and work harder.
When you consciously sit up – or better– stand up, moving your body around helps the blood to flow again. It gives your legs and backside a rest, as well as decompresses your lungs to help give the oxygen to your brain and body. It will return the color to your face, and help ease the strain on your shoulders.
(2) Look the person in the eye: Normally, you will find that you’re overwhelmed and stressed because you’re either spending too much mind-time in the past (“I haven’t done that yet”), or too much time in the future (“I’ll never get this finished on time”). And all that’s good for is a slumping posture and a scowl on your face.
Instead, use this advantage of body language to pull yourself back to the present moment. When yo
u feel yourself getting uptight and miserable, just for a minute, wiggle your toes, look at the color of your shoes, take a whiff of the air (coffee?), listen to the sounds around you. It’s looking yourself in the eye. Getting present with yourself. When you get yourself back to the present, then you can consciously and purposefully “choose your attitude”.
(3) Smile: Help along your body language by thinking of something that makes you smile. Remember the 70’s pop-psychology idea of going to your “happy place”? Have that happy place in reserve, or think about a funny thing you or a friend did, or even a funny scene from a movie. Smile in your mind, or if appropriate, on the outside as well.
Body language has always been used to send a signal to other people, but now you can use your body language to send a signal to your own brain, and take advantage of feeling better any time of the day.