THE BLOG

How Body Language Can Help Lower Stress

06/12/2015 04:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2016

Most stress relief techniques are completely useless.

Believe me, I've tried them all. I tried yoga, anti-stress software, breathing exercises, aromatherapy and classes before discovering body language. This is a completely new way to approach stress -- and I want to teach it to you.

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Mastering your body language is an effective, science-based stress-reducing technique -- and you already have all the tools you need to use it.

Step One: Take Back Control

First, we have to understand that most of our stress comes from a lack of control. Especially for women, who feel the majority of their stress during out-of-control situations -- heavy workload, blind dates or having to impress new groups of people. Learning body language will put you back in control. And that's how we will target stress.

Step Two: Internal Stress

Most people don't realize that humans produce a stress hormone called cortisol. This is a nasty little hormone that can lead us to gain weight, slows down our thinking and makes us feel that overwhelming anxiety that always hits at the worst possible time. Harvard University researchers found that our cortisol levels can be changed by our body language. They found that just standing in weak body language for five minutes can increase your cortisol levels -- making you feel more and more stressed! You can reverse this cycle by avoiding weak body language. Here's what to do when you begin to feel that internal stress:

Step Three: Expand and Elevate

The moment you begin to feel internal stress it means your cortisol levels are pumping, working to bring you even further down into a cycle of anxiety. As soon as you feel yourself go into a stressful mental space, put your physical space into strong body language:

  • Roll your shoulders back and down your spine.
  • Aim your chest and forehead up towards the sun.
  • Place your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder width apart.
  • Relax your arms at your side.

These are the characteristics of strong body language. The more space you take up and the more relaxed your muscles, the less cortisol you will produce, which will then lessen your feelings of stress.

Step Four: Get Some Juice

Body language can not only help you reduce cortisol, it can also help you increase the hormones that will help you conquer your stress. While weak body language increases cortisol, strong body language increases your testosterone levels. Testosterone (for both men and women) helps you think more clearly, increases your endurance and makes you feel stronger. When you are in the throws of stress, try power posing to decrease cortisol and increase testosterone. This will make you feel more in control and mentally strong:

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Power Pose #1: Pride

When we win a race we throw our hands above our head and smile with happiness. You can use this to get super-charged through stress.

Power Pose #2: Wonder Woman

Putting your hands on your hips and standing wide and firm is the ultimate testosterone producing pose.

Power Pose #3: Dancing

The more you can move your body and take up space, the more testosterone your body produces and the stronger you feel. Turn on your favorite song and rock out -- it's the best stress relief there is.

Next time you're stressed try to use your body language to put you back in control and get the right hormones pumping. You will be amazed at how different you begin to feel.