10 Small Movements that Can Improve Your Mood

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I always tell my kids that we don’t always get to choose our feelings, but we get to choose what we do with them. Sometimes those emotions, though, can be so strong that they feel impossible to overcome. This is where it helps to fake it ’til we make it: Acting as if we feel a certain way can cause us to actually feel that way. It’s science.

Whether you’re trying to work your way out of a snit or into confidence before giving a presentation, here are some powerful physical ways to nudge your emotions to where you want them.

Keep these freeing tricks in mind for the next time you find yourself in an emotional bind:

  1. Fake smiles are proven to make us feel better, reduce stress, and elevate our mood.
  2. Try smiling to trigger joyful memories if you feel sad.
  3. Can’t muster even a fake smile? Try putting a pen between your teeth to trick your brain into thinking you’re smiling and reaping the benefits nonetheless.
  4. Pay attention to your breathing. Slow it down and regulate your breaths to usher in a sense of peace or calm when you’re feeling anything but.
  5. Improve your posture to improve your entire outlook. Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed.
  6. Ease physical pain by giving yourself a hug. It scrambles the pain signals as they travel to your brain: “Crossing the hands over the body midline impairs [the brain’s] ability to localize tactile stimuli,” according to a research study that examined the phenomenon.
  7. As an act of self-compassion, giving yourself a hug can also reduce psychological pain.
  8. To quit procrastinating on something, make one small motion toward doing it, whether it’s opening the door to the closet you want to declutter, putting on your running shoes, or turning the computer on when you have that paper to write.
  9. Alternately, literally walking away from something decreases its power of temptation over you.
  10. Assume a “power pose” to boost your confidence before a daunting task. (Note that the research on this has been called into question; but, hey, I think it’s worth a try!)

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