Saturday, February 7, 2015

Learning Hack of the Day: Raise Your Arms for Better Posture and Mood

Arms up or out for a better attitude and mood.

Feeling resistance? Winter cold and snow drifts seem insurmountable. Spread your arms out so the arms are shoulder height and the fingers on both hands point in opposite directions. Let your body form a capital “T”. This will improve posture and attitude. When I spread my arms out, I feel invincible.

Just this morning, I stood in the middle of a Michigan winter The temp was near the zero mark, and despite wearing layers of clothing, I felt the coldness seep into me.

My car doors wouldn’t open. I clumped in the house for WD 40. I sprayed the car doors liberally. Still they wouldn’t budge.

I started walking down the road to where I could get a bus. Many of our neighbors are elderly people and their sidewalks are not shoveled. Good thing I had big Boc boots that reached to my knees. I made it to the bus stop and waited and waited.

I spread my arms like I was suspended on a cross. I felt better. My mood lifted.

A bus finally came, but it wasn’t the one I waited for. I caught it and rode it at least little ways down the road. I got off at a bus stop further down the road. At least there was a Panera Bread shop there if I needed to go inside for awhile. Instead I waited for a bus that would take me where I needed to be.

Finally the correct bus came. I got on, and it deliver me a few blocks from my workplace. More snow piles to climb over. When I came to a particularly large pile, I was sure I could not climb over this one, and I didn’t have the energy to go back. I spread my arms again. Again my mood lifted, and I traveled onward.

Coming home from work, the bus dropped me off a few blocks from home. I started trudging toward home. Why me, Lord.

I wasn’t cold, but I was exhausted. I stretched my arms out. Immediately I felt better. I noticed how pretty the world looked. All that snow looked like a giant marshmallow cake. I traveled on home.

Spreading your arms out improves posture. The head goes up. One just feels more in control.

As I was doing this, I thought about something I read somewhere a long time ago. The simple act of raising arms above the head improves mood. I used to have my students do that. I had a 20 minute rule. I had to stop every 20 minutes, so students could rest and refocus. Of course, I needed something for students to do in those few seconds while I stopped lecturing. I often had everyone raise their arms above their heads. They would look at me like was crazy, and then after putting their arms up, everyone would smile.

To improve mood and to feel more in control: Raise your arms. Then either stretch them out like a scarecrow's arms or raise them straight above your head.

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