In the past we’ve talked about certain habits that can help boost your mood and energy levels, like meditation and trying out adaptogen herbs.
For all intents and purposes, these techniques are still awesome and using them can help increase performance in all areas of your life. However, I came across several studies I wanted to share with you that add another pretty epic layer to regulating your mood (and, well, living your best life!).
The Effect Of Movement On Mood And Mind
It’s likely you are aware that exercise in any form produces endorphins, those feel-good chemicals and hormones that can give us a little mood boost.
However, the effect goes deeper than that, and also includes specific types of movement.
You know we’re all about the kettlebell and functional/primal training styles here, which include movements that get you on all fours. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that moving on all fours just three times a week can improve your ability to mentally respond to your environment and solve problems! Theoretically, these types of movements also simulate how we used to “play” when we were kids, which could lead to more creativity and joy as adults.
However, those are mental and mood benefits just from movements many of us already practice (at least, if you’re been here awhile). What about other movement styles?
Take Qigong, for instance: studies have shown that just ONE session of Qigong can significantly reduce anxiety and improve autonomic nervous system balance (meaning it can also help keep your stress levels in balance). This type of movement is pretty different from other types, involving concentration, relaxation, meditation, breathing regulation, and body posture. Not to mention, in a similar way to yoga, Qigong is slow and controlled, mirroring the state of “Zen” it helps one to achieve.
In a similar vein, Tai Chi, which has a similar movement structure to Qigong, has also shown in studies to significantly reduce negative emotion, both in the short and long term and across age groups.
I wanted to share this to get you thinking about different styles of movement, since all of us tend to get stuck in specific movement patterns and styles (which, ironically, can mirror being stuck in certain moods or behaviors that reinforce negative moods). Breaking out of that, especially if your mood has been low as of late, can be another step you can take to help give things a boost, plus potentially stimulate creativity and inspiration!
Using Different Styles Of Movement To Help Regulate Mood
Obviously, there are a whole heck of a lot of movement types. Even just in resistance training alone, we can either dive into a fast-paced HIIT style workout, or focus on more slow and controlled heavy lifts, or even eccentric movements.
Now, if we expand out, we can see that an endless amount of movements types are available, from fast striking or sparring in MMA, to slow, methodical Qigong or yoga.
An interesting approach to regulating your mood with movement is to match your mood (or desired mood) with your movements!
So, let’s say it’s been an intense week and you have some frustration, or even anger, built up. A good outlet for that can go either way: letting out your frustration with an intense HIIT session, or some bag work. OR, you can go the other route and decompress with a slow-flow yoga session.
The key here is to experiment with different styles and take note of their effect on your mood. Then, if you’re seeking to stay balanced, add in that movement type that works best to keep you in balance. In this way, you’re using specified movements as a unique tool to stay holistically fit, which includes emotional and mental health.
The Bottom Line
• Specific movement styles can influence mood and mental states
• Varying your movement/workout styles may help balance your mood and stimulate creativity
• Experiment with different movement styles to find the best type to keep your mood balanced