Let’s talk about your body. You know, that physical thing that the real you hauls around every day. How do you feel? Do you have a stiff neck, are you kind of tired, or are you super energetic? Take a minute to stop and just pay attention to your physical “mood.”

Right. We all know that there is a mind-body connection, but how often do we really pay attention to that? When we feel sad and we crumple in a chair, do we feel better? Would we feel better if we instead got up and went outside to raise our arms and listen to the birds sing? Sure, we’d still be sad but our bodies would at least give us a fighting chance to feel better. There is a great Peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown is walking all slouched over, and he says, “…this is my depressed stance. When you’re depressed the worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better.” Body posture and exercise make a difference, and it’s time we start paying attention. How you move can change how you feel, and how you feel about yourself.

Before we go any further I want to remind you that you do not need to be fixed, you do not need to conform to any outside standard, and you do not need to feel bad about your current physical state. Self-shame will just slow you down and keep you from moving into the place you want to be. We aren’t talking about being “beach ready” or having a ripped body with 10 percent body fat. Instead let’s focus on noticing how our emotions and our body state work together.

Do you pay attention to your body? Many of us have body issues and would rather not notice the pot belly, thick thighs, or soft arms. So, we ignore this vital part of our daily life and just kind of hope that it doesn’t get too much worse. Or, maybe we obsess about having the perfect shape, the rock-hard abs, or whatnot. Pay attention and start to work with what you already know about your body and your emotional state, and see how they interact. “I know that when I sit at the computer for too long I get extra grouchy and don’t feel like doing anything in the evening.” Ok, so then you know that if you want to have energy to enjoy your free time you need to do something to break the pattern. Sitting all day is one of the hardest things on our bodies and also our moods. Break up your work day and move around on a regular basis, or do an intervention at the end of the day. You may not feel like doing anything, and that is exactly when you need to do something. Walk around the block. Jump up and down for 30 seconds. Do qi gong or tai chi or stop at the health club on your way home. Anything is better than nothing, and your emotional self needs it as much as your physical self!

Need some super easy ideas?

Sit up straight, take deep breaths and lift your arms over your head as you do.

Stand and let your arms hang at your sides, then twist your torso left and right, allowing your arms to hang and flop back and forth around your body. Try to look over each shoulder as you twist.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Put your hands up in front of you, and mimic the “wax-on, wax-off” by making small circles with your hands, as if you are wiping a window clean. Reverse direction, too.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms at your sides. Lift your arms in a wide scooping motion as if you are gathering up a large bunch of laundry. Scoop, bringing your hands toward each other, and then cross your hands and arms toward your chest, as if hugging the laundry. Drop your hands and continue scooping in this circular motion for a minute or so.

It’s important to realize that movement and body awareness are not really optional for us if we want to live healthy and joyful lives. When you are experiencing an unpleasant state of mind, when you are depressed or overwhelmed, those are the most important times to break in with a physical change. Sometimes just getting up and walking to the next room for a glass of water is enough to break the slump. Body chemistry changes with movement, so get moving and improve your mood, and be ready to live your audacious life!

P.S. Check out this great TED talk on the topic.