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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—<smile>):  “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!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • denisemorris
    5 years ago

    This was a GREAT video for many reasons. I can remember – before the stupid doctors made me ‘retire’ – I used my game face pretty much every day for a couple of years there. It does make a difference. I found if I could keep a smile on my face – and something close in my voice – for the first 10-15 minutes of the workday I could make at least half the day even on the worst headache days. I am not saying it was easy, and believe me I had my medication, but I managed.
    It also helped if I sat up straight and tall in my wheelchair and kept my neck aligned with the rest of my spine. I had a tendency to slide down ” and get comfortable ” at my computer, not good for my neck or head.
    I really like the idea of the power ‘poses’ before an interview too. I will probably never go on another job interview, but I will definitely pass it on to my nieces and nephews. And who knows I may use it for some other type of interview. 🙂

  • Paintchip
    5 years ago

    I have similar experiences to what commenter denicemorris described. For years I practiced the “fake it ’till you make it” thing at work and in my daily life. And yes I still do it on days where my responsibilities for personal healthcare and my responsibilities to others – don’t seem to match up well. Doing a bit of “faking” can get me closer to the resolution of living a balanced life.

    I can totally relate to how small gestures can make a difference in my mindset too. Best of all – even though I didn’t realize it before this very day – I can also resinate with the “fake it until you become it” phrase Amy mentions in her TED-Talk. After taking a moment to reflect on things – I realize I can honestly say that over the years I became a different me, dare I say a better me, from faking it for quite some time. I feel on a very real level that now I completely associate with traits that at one time I simply faked in an effort to strengthen who I wanted to become.

    As a result of your article I’m going to change the verbiage I use with my clients (self-employed chronic migrainuers) and when it comes up – I’ll encourage them to adopt the more accurate: “Fake it ’til you become it” attitude mind set. I think this phrase feels more empowering too! 🙂

    Thank you Janet, for your insights and for sharing Amy’s talk with us as well. Good find! Good connection to how it can fit into our migrainey lives!


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