Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

June marks Migraine & Headache Awareness month, an annual campaign to make people more aware of the impact of migraine and headache disorders on everyone’s life. Lots of bloggers out there (including several of us from are responding to MHAM Blog Challenge posts this month Migraine & Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge prompts as a way to spread awareness of all the intricacies of migraine disease.  June 21st’s topic (posted late—oops!) deals with the idea that “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”

Before I delve into my take on this, please—I beg of you—take a few minutes to watch one of the most amazing TED Talks I’ve seen.  It’s fascinating and I guarantee it will change your point of view: click below to listen to Amy Cuddy’s talk from 2012.   I’ll be here when you get back.

Okay, done watching?

Pretty incredible, huh?  And okay, for those of you who didn’t have the time or inclination to watch the video, here’s the crux (as excerpted from the TED Talks YouTube channel description):
“Body language affects how other see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how ‘power posing’—standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident—can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”

Think about that. Our bodies are fascinatingly complex, a true work of art that scientists are still far from understanding. The discovery that our posture can have such a dramatic effect on our outlook and attitude (not to mention energy level) is an astounding breakthrough.  What could this mean for migraineurs?

Here’s my take on it:  as someone with chronic illness and a very busy life, I juggle a lot.  Most days I feel at least a little bit tired, if not downright fatigued—just a quick glance at my to-do list has me wanting to crawl under a rock, if even for a moment.  Heck, this post was written before June 21 and was supposed to be posted on June 21, but I didn’t get around to it until today, two days later than planned.  In addition to my bad procrastination habit, my day job, running an independent bookstore, requires me to be “on” much of the time.  If I’m at the shop, I try to be professional, alert, energetic, and customer-oriented.  This means that, except in the case of debilitating tiredness or sickness, I try to put my game face on. More often than not, this usually ends up putting me in a good mood even if I’ve started the day feeling a little negative or tired.

A while back I wrote a blog with a title that riled up a handful of readers (particularly ones who didn’t read the blog itself, only the title—):  “Fake it til you make it.” I consider today’s post kind of a companion piece to that one.

Watching Amy Cuddy’s presentation makes me feel more aware of how I’m sitting.  As I type, I put my shoulders back and then notice that my head is craned forward, as if reaching out to see the computer screen better.  I pull it back so it’s resting on my spinal column and immediately feel my neck relax.  As someone whose migraines are triggered by neck pain and shoulder/back stiffness, it would behoove me to pay better attention to my body’s positioning.

Are there particular postures or poses you take to change the way you’re feeling? What positions make your muscle tension ease?  What sorts of postures do you assume when you want to relax? How about when you want to feel empowered or energetic? And what does all this have to do with your migraine patterns? Share in the comments below!

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