It’s simple, it’s free, and the possibilities are endless. Really, any form of body movement for a small window of time—or a long session if you have it—has the ability to completely transform how you feel in the moment.
Running, jogging, even a brisk walk around the block can do wonders, but really, you don’t even have to leave the house. Pop on a high-energy song and give yourself three-ish minutes to dance like no one’s watching to reap the bennies.
Science says it’s because it improves circulation to the brain, which has an effect on the way we process stress hormones. It does this by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (aka HPA axis), mediating the types of stress hormones we are pumping out. When we are less stressed, we have less debilitating fear, which plays a major role in our mood as well as our motivation levels.
Another reason that we don’t have to commit to long, intense workouts to activate our happy sensors is because all we need to do is enough movement to raise our heart rate in order to increase the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin—hormones associated with joy and relaxation. Movement also juices our endorphins, which gives us sustainable energy for the day, and mitigates responses to both physical and emotional pain.
When we are super stressed, our bodies pump out an excess of a stress hormone called cortisol. When we have too much cortisol throwing off our delicate hormonal system, that’s when things like breakouts, sleep issues, poor digestion, and weight gain can all come into play. That’s why it’s so important to sit with ourselves and be present, evaluating our mood and doing what we can to reach a comfortable level. Consider it part of our beauty routine.
Poppy Jaime, founder of Happy Not Perfect, swears by dancing to biohack her mood, “It’s quite hard just to think yourself out of thought-spirals, so by interrupting our busy brains with some dancing, we help release feel good hormones, boost energy levels and use our bodies to send messages to our brain to say… it’s ok, no threats things are much better than we think they are. Nervous system, you can calm down now.” Sounds like self care to us.
While doing a super intense workout when we’re already really stressed out can actually worsen the problem (high-intensity workouts can actually increase cortisol levels), small bursts of movement or even something more gentle, like yoga, can transform the way we feel and the way our intricate systems behave.
Next time you’re feeling agitated, angry, unmotivated, or just straight up in despair, throw a guilty-pleasure dance jam on your headphones and get funky. Flail. Practice twerking in the mirror. Go on a walk. Do some dynamic stretching, or breathe through whatever length of flow you’ve got time for. We’ll take 10 jumping jacks. Some unstructured wiggling. Just shake out the stagnant energy and propel yourself forward.
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