After looking at patients’ bumps, bruises and scars all day, physical therapists know all too well that bodies can tell a vivid story. But how often do our bodies try to communicate things our mouths don’t want to say?
“All the time,” say body language experts. Something as simple as a flex of the finger or a tap of the foot can tell your co-workers, and patients, more than all the emojis in a 14 year-old’s vocabulary. Even if they are not able to put into words what those signals say, their hearts and their heads read the message loud and clear.
Funny enough, our own brains pick up on these body language meanings and tend to adapt our mindset to fit. So, the next time you are facing a problem, or a tough shift in general, try these body language awareness “hacks” to alter your mental state in beneficial ways:
Cross Your Arms to Gain Determination
Crossing your arms to someone can feel like an attempt at intimidation or communicate unspoken annoyance, but what about crossing your arms to intimidate a personal problem?
It may seem silly, but the simple act of crossing your arms can make you feel more secure, which helps you gain more determination and persistence to solve problems. Since healthcare workers need as much persistence as they can get, you should try crossing your arms the next time you feel stuck or powerless. This gesture can help you stare your problems down and find renewed energy to tackle them.
Strike a Superman Pose to Get Confident
Just like folding your arms can help you shrink a problem down to size, standing proudly — chest and chin out with your hands on your hips like Superman would — can make you feel more powerful and confident. So, if you ever feel nervous, stressed or intimidated, give yourself a second in private to stand tall and make your body feel as big as possible.
Use Gestures to Help You Learn New Things
Research shows that talking aloud through a new concept does not help retention, but using gestures can. While we often find difficulty putting concepts into words, making gestures in the air can help us summarize to ourselves what we are getting at.
So if you are trying to improve your patient knowledge or upskill your PT abilities through continuing education, think like a New Yorker and get your hands involved.
Smile to Reduce Stress
Ever feel so angry, frustrated or upset that you do not know what to do? Try smiling about it!
As insane as it sounds, smiling in the face of your own anger or overwhelming emotions can help you get them back under control. That effect occurs because when we frown or grimace using our facial muscles, our body releases cortisol, which increases our stress levels. Smiling reduces this cortisol response, and it can also help us feel more in control of our problems.
As an added bonus, others feel less stressed, too, so spread the smile around!–
Finding the Job You Need Means Less Coping Through Body Language Meanings
All of these techniques above are great for when life gets you down, but sometimes what you really need is a change of pace. If you think you could benefit from a job change or finding a better position, then take a look at our PT job postings to make your smiles on-the-job the result of actual happiness.