Welcome to this weekly online resource. Wellness professional Jo Foster, offers self care tips through her insights on mindfulness and positive psychology, her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations.
This week we will begin considering how we can develop, preserve and enhance confidence. Enjoy!
In 2012 Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on the benefits of power posing gained over 46 million views and became the second-most-popular TED talk in history. Amy's research suggests that just two minutes of adopting a power pose can alter the hormones produced by your body giving you a more powerful presence, less anxiety and greater cognitive capability. She advocates the "fake it until you make it" theory.
There was a huge backlash by psychologists in response to Amy's theory. The questions raised be primarily around the strength of evidence to support her theory. I say if it feels like it works, then that is evidence enough.
So let's give the Power Pose a go and see how it feels. Here goes:
- Stand up with your feet at hip distance apart.
- Place your hands on your hips or stretch them out wide
- Raise your chest
- Relax down your shoulders
- Raise your chin
- take a deep breath and then let it go...
How do you feel? Strong? Capable? Uplifted?
The research suggest that this works by increasing testosterone and cortisol levels. These hormones play a role in priming our bodies to rise to the occasion. They stimulate a "call to action" mode in our bodies and the response is almost instantaneous. These neurotransmitters prepare us for a fight-or-flight situation. They alter the immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes and instead favour a natural alarm system that communicates with the brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear. They send all our resources to making us a mentally sharper and physically stronger version of ourselves.
How might this work?
There are multiple theories around this and all of them are complicated! Our bodies are a huge source of mystery and science is only scratching the surface of understanding.
One theory is that by raising the chest we increase pressure / massage the adrenal gland that sits above the kidneys towards the back of the ribcage. This stimulation causes a release in Testosterone and Cortisol. This ads a shot of "oomph" into the confidence cocktail.
Another theory is that by raising the chest ,lengthening the neck and lifting the head we are carrying out a form of vagal nerve stimulation. Vagus in latin means "wandering". The vagus nerve is the main pathway for conveying information about the internal condition of the body to the brain. By applying pressure at certain points on the vagus nerve scientific studies have revealed that this can result in greater reward seeking behaviour and motivation and can alter heart rate regulation and breathing patterns to restore a calmer and yet more capable physiological state.
Maybe the Power Pose works because it does both.
Regardless of what the science says it has been observed to work for many people. When it comes to initiating a positive shift in the mindset it's a great place to start.
So sit proud and stand tall to be confident.
If you haven't yet seen Amy Cuddy's ted talk it is well worth the time to watch.
Another Serotonin boosting recipe for you this week.
Salmon is a rich source of tryptophan, which is important for producing serotonin. In addition to helping increase serotonin levels, it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for the skin, heart, and bones.
Salmon also contains Vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones and to aid in serotonin production.