For some time now I have been concerned about, what seems to me, a rising anxiety in people, especially in young people. I had been struggling to nail why this would be the case – what could the cause be? I am not saying I have nailed the cause and the solution but the research by author and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy makes a lot of sense as to what could be enhancing the rise in anxiety and certainly she has some simple strategies where we need to ‘nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language behaviour and mindset in our day to day lives.
I was recommended The Ted Talk video which I have included below and it is a great overview of Amy’s research and presented by Amy herself so it shares her honesty and passion on the subject of her research.
Amy shares her personal journey and struggle when she suffered brain injury after being thrown out of car whilst she was a student at University and how that accident rocked her world and dashed her personal self confidence.
‘Presence – Bringing your BOLDEST SELF to you BIGGEST CHALLENGES’ by Amy Cuddy was released in 2016 and is published in book and audio formats. I personally think every library should possess a copy of this. It does go into a lot of detail about her research and of others.
The powerful and essential message that Amy shares from her research is that the way you hold your body when sitting and standing influences the way you feel. Yes that’s right your body influences your mind! We often here of the other way of mind over body… but she has researched to prove that our body and the way we hold ourselves can influence our mind.
By engaging your ‘Power Pose’, whether it standing tall and with an open chest and hands on hips (like Wonder Woman or Super Man) or with your arms stretch up in the air like you just won a race you are releasing and changing your release of hormones in your body.
Studies are proving that ‘Power Poses’ increase your testosterone (‘dominance’ hormone) and lower your cortisol (‘stress’ hormone).
The big insight for me and my concern for increasing anxiety in people I know is the possibility the the increased use of small technology devices such as mobile phones brings people into the powerless pose and thus lessens testosterone and increases cortisol the ‘stress’ hormone. Maybe that is having a gradual and insidious affect on our bodies and our minds. Teenagers are growing up with these devices and spending extended times in powerless poses.
Perhaps we should be going for bigger devices… such as wide screen touch computer screens getting us to open up our upper bodies and use big movements… (darn those convenient little easy to carry, ever useful mobile phones!)
Here are some ‘take aways’ that I gleaned from my reading and viewing a variety of Amy’s Ted Talks and videos.
- Start with Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk to get a good picture in 20 minutes.
- Choose and practice your personal power pose for 2 minutes e.g. ‘Star it up!’, Wonder woman, race winning pose, sitting up straight.
- No one need see and if they do – awesome you are spreading the news to them too!
- Smile and laugh at the moment!
- Reduce your time hunched over small devices – this puts you in the powerless mode
- Engage your family & friends in it too! Let’s spread the word!!
- Engage in activities that open your front e.g. painting on large canvases, lay under the stars and stretch your arms out, make angels in the snow, dust or even lying in bed.