Here’s an idea on how to spend some of your spare time this week: on a nice day, just sit on a park bench and spend a moment watching the people around you. Try to guess who is in a hurry, who is in a good mood, and who is feeling down.
You’ll likely find that people tend to show how they are feeling by how they carry themselves. If they’re in a good mood, they typically have a little pep in their step, so the saying goes. Their shoulders and head are up, and their chest is out. If a person is feeling depressed, they’re usually moving at a slower pace, keeping their arms fairly still, and their head and shoulders are in a sunken position.
So we know that mood impacts how a person carries his or herself, but what about the opposite; can the way a person walks affect their mood? It seems like a strange question, perhaps, but according to some new research that I recently came across, the answer could very well be yes.
You see, participants in a study were shown a list of positive and negative words—like “beautiful” and “scared”—before walking on a treadmill. They were asked to walk in either a happy, bouncy style, or a depressed style, with their shoulders rolled forward and minimal arm movement.
When the participants got off the treadmill, they were asked to recall the words they were shown. Interestingly, the people who walked in a depressed fashion recalled more negative words than the people who walked in a happy fashion.
Depression is often a self-perpetuating cycle and is usually caused by a number of factors. However, if you can break a single link in the chain, it might limit the impact of the other contributing factors. By changing the way you walk, being sure to put a little pep in each new step, this minor change just might help you shake depression or at least make you feel happy for a little while.
Think of it this way: This experiment shows an association, not a cause and effect relationship, between mood and memory. So by walking in a way that reflects how you’re feeling, it can make those depressed feelings harder to kick. By trying to make an effort to concentrate on how you walk and use body language, you may improve your mood through positive memories, helping to break the cycle of negativity. Walking with a bit of bounce might help you get through a tough day from time to time.
Source for Today’s Article:
Preidt, R., “Upbeat Walking Style Might Lift Your Mood,” MedlinePlus web site, October 17, 2014; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_148980.html.