6 Ways to Use Body Language to Make Yourself Feel Great

Striking a pose can change the way you feel on the inside.


Father and son

Strike a pose (Tom Wang / Shutterstock.com)

Need a quick pick-me-up? Skip the coffee, and instead, stand straighter, smile and even try imitating a cheerful walk to lift your spirits. Here are six easy ways to beat the blues with your body language.


Scientists at Canada’s Institute for Advanced Research had two groups of study participants walk on a treadmill, one with their shoulders slumped and with a slow gait, and the other in a more cheerful fashion. As they walked, the test subjects were shown a list of positive and negative words.
The depressed walkers recalled more negative words, while the cheerful walkers remembered the upbeat words on the list, suggesting that their body language during the test had affected their moods and memory. The lesson here? Lift your head and stand tall, and you may just see your spirits look up as well.  

Woman walking

Walk like you mean it (mimagephotography /Shutterstock.com)


You know the saying “Fake it until you make it”? Well, it’s actually true when it comes to smiling. Since the 1970s, research has shown that even a manipulated smile can boost your mood. A genuine smile - one that involves both the mouth and the eyes - does all kinds of great things for you, like releasing endorphins into your bloodstream and boosting your immune system.
What’s more, researchers at the University of Kansas found that people who smile have better heart recovery rates after stressful events. So, if you find yourself in a stressful situation, a smile could just be what the doctor ordered.

Woman smiling

Flash those pearly whites (Natalia_Grabovskaya / Shutterstock.com)


Try a power pose to restore your confidence. Either raise your arms in the victory pose or put your hands on your hips like Superman, and then hold for a few moments. “Power posing” can help reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels while increasing feel-good hormones, says Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, Ph.D.

Woman with hands on hips

Pose it up. (Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com)


Body language expert Christopher Carter says subtly mirroring others is a great way to build an instant connection, but warns mirroring exactly can feel like mocking. For example, if the person you’re with sits down and adopts a relaxed posture, do the same. And if the person's energy is very "up," you can build rapport with him or her by mirroring their energy. Later, once your rapport is established, try lowering your energy, says Carter, and the other person will lower their energy, too.

Man and woman drinking coffee relaxed

Mirrored posture (ProStockStudio /Shutterstock)


Laughter is a great mood booster—it allows your muscles to relax, improves blood sugar, and raises and then beneficially lowers blood pressure levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because laughing is a social thing (you’re 30 percent more likely to laugh with others than alone), it decreases isolation. But that laughter better be the real thing: It turns out that the brain can easily detect the difference between real and fake laughter.

Girl laughing in meadow

Laughter really is the best medicine (ambrozinio / Shutterstock.com) 


When you’re feeling nervous, uncertain and or afraid, you may find yourself crossing your arms or legs or may be putting your hands in front of our face or mouth. That’s called “body blocking,” and it’s a universal sign of discomfort, Carter says. To feel better, he advises flinging your limbs out and taking up more space. Making yourself and your space bigger conveys confidence, not just to those around you, but also to your brain.

Joyful woman flings arms out

Increase your body space (stockfour / Shutterstock.com)


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This article by Peggy Conger was originally published on Live Happy, and appears here with permission.