Shift your Mood: 7 Quick & Easy Body Tools


Photo by Casper Nichols on Unsplash

You have the power to shift your mood using quick and easy body tools…

Science has proven that the way you hold your body and the way you move can dictate much more about how you feel than you may have realized.

Here’s how I know this from my own personal experience…

When I was a young competitive gymnast, my coaches decided that everyone on the team needed to work on their postures in order to impress the judges and get higher scores. The coaches instituted a mandate: for the 6+ hours per day that we were in the gym, we had to suck in our stomachs (flexing stomach muscles) and tuck our butts under by flexing our glut muscles and slightly tensing our lower back.

My team members and I spent an entire summer on high alert in our bodies, hearts and minds — fearful of the next time we were caught by our somewhat intimidating coaches with less than perfect posture. 

If we got caught with a loose gut or an untucked butt, even while on a break, the coaches would yell out to the poorly-postured child: “Rachel, suck and tuck!” When my name was called, it was jarring! Immediately, I flexed my stomach, tucked my butt and put the required penalty of a quarter in the community piggy bank. By the end of the summer, we were all permanently tensing our bodies into our coaches’ desired posture…and there was enough money in the piggy bank to throw a party for the whole team.

This summer was when a fear-response pattern became imprinted in my body. Even without hearing someone yell my name and punish me for not sucking and tucking, I began to live in tension at all times. This body tension translated to emotional tension…and so it went. 

Why did I sharing this story with you? Looking back and knowing what I know now…

Your body releases tons of hormones all the time that influence your mood, your thoughts and your feelings.

I know that one of the worst things you can possibly do to your body is create constant tension, especially in your gut. This tension sends a false alarm signal to your sympathetic nervous system, alerting it to potential danger (that actually isn’t danger at all). And, when this alarm switches on, your flight/fight/freeze response gets turned on. It’s a false alarm that never turns off…unless…you consciously do something to reverse the pattern.

It’s empowering to know that your body (not your mind) is hugely responsible for how you feel emotionally.

You have agency to shift your mood…
by shifting your body!

Consider choosing one of the following to focus on over the next week, setting a timer for 3x/day to try it out.

1)  Loosen your Jaw – If you’re a jaw-clencher, stop! Ok, ok I know, it’s not that simple! When your timer goes off, take a breath and soften your jaw. Start with a huge open-mouth stretch, sticking your tongue out as far as you can. Follow this stretch with a little jaw massage, by doing circular movements with your finger tips at the hinge where your lower jaw meets your upper jaw.

2)  Soften the space around your eyes – Holding tension anywhere in your face increases your body’s sense that there’s something to be worried about.  Let your body know that you’re safe by closing your eyes and imagining the area around both eyes releasing. Breathe into this sensation. Then, open your eyes and again envision softness surrounding your eyes. Breathe.

3)  Relax your belly – Your gut is known as your second brain. There are more receptors for specific hormones related to mood in your gut than in your brain. So, take a moment to breathe, with the intention of inflating your belly. With each breath, feel your belly soften and the muscles of your core release.

4)  Drop your shoulders – Holding/tensing your shoulders is a sure-fire way to create an unnecessary stress response in your body. In cold weather, especially, it’s very common to tense your shoulders as a way to abate the cold. Play with shoulder rolls – practicing rolling your shoulders forward, up, then down while breathing into the center of your shoulder blades.

5)  Stand tall(er) – Your central nervous systems relies on you to know if there’s a threat to your well-being. Slumping makes your body small, as if you’re hiding from danger. Making your body small has been proven to increase the stress hormone (cortisol) and decrease the confidence hormone (testosterone).

6)  Open your arms – Fan your feathers, so to speak, and take up space with your upper body. Let your system know that you don’t need protection right now. As you open your arms, breathe in deeply and repeat in your mind: “I am safe. I am at ease. All is well.”

7)  Take a deep breath – The simple act of taking a big, conscious breath makes a huge impact in your body, mind and soul. Sit tall and feel the breath inflate your lungs, and expand your diaphragm, expanding your rib cage and back body and inflating your belly. Then, feel the release as your body deflates on the exhale.

The more you practice these simple stress relieving body-based exercises, the more you create healthy patterns in your body, mind and mood.

Which one will you try first?





Love is a Practice

Love is a Practice
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Love is a practice.

There’s nothing riskier or more intoxicating than love.

Love is waking up every day and courageously making a choice to be in it — invested, committed, and present.

Love is honoring yourself.

Love is giving your attention and presence whole-heartedly, without agenda.

Love is being vulnerable to pain and going for it anyway.

Love is working with yourself in compassionate ways, even when you don’t like yourself.

Love is acceptance of that which is imperfect.

Love is allowing yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it, even if it doesn’t make sense logically.

Love is leading with your heart.

Love is trusting what you can’t always see.

Love is an on-going process, that’s ever-changing and ever-evolving.

Love is being grateful for moments and experiences that fill you up with the all the feels (even the painful stuff).

Love is being true to yourself.

Love is a choice.

Love is a practice.

Below is a love-enhancing practice I learned and adapted from a coach friend of mine, Jasmin Bristow.  My husband and I use this practice every evening. If you’re single, you can do this exercise with yourself just as effectively!

Take turns with each item below (in that order), saying your answers out loud. If you are doing the practice alone, you can either say your answers out loud or write them down.

  1. Gratitude: Each person names 3 things they’re grateful for. It’s important that you trust the process, knowing that nothing you say is too small or too big. Gratitude allows you to bring presence to it all. Try not to judge what comes to mind. Take a breath and let it flow.
  2. Magic Moment: Each person names one magic moment from the day. Again, the magic moment could be something major or it could be as simple as the color of the sky at dusk or laughing with a friend.
  3. Acknowledgement: Each person starts with the phrase “I love you every day and I fell in love with you again today when you _____________________” and then fill in the blank with something they did that made you appreciate them. If you’re doing this exercise with yourself, this is a great opportunity to acknowledge yourself from something you did to love yourself better.
  4. Intention Setting:  Each person declares an intention for the following day that begins with: “Tomorrow I’m creating_____________________” and then fill in the blank with 1-3 ways of being for the following day. Please note: this should not be a “to do list” but rather a state of being that you’d intend on embodying. Example: Tomorrow I’m creating presence, passion and health. 

If you decide to try this practice, aim to do it consecutively for 14-days. Take note of what shifts within you (and within your relationship, if you practice together).

No matter what, consider how you can love yourself a little more and a little better every day. If you need a reason to remember why it’s important to come back to love, read this.





If you liked this post, you might also appreciate this one and this one.

P.S. Want more ways to enhance your love practice? Try this free guided meditation or go deeper and use this self-care, self-guided retreat to reduce stress and gain awareness.

THIS Works Better than Positive Thinking

You’ve probably heard plenty about positive thinking, but does it work?

Positive thinking is all the rage right now. It’s also at the heart of a lot of shaming.

Just thinking positively will NOT cure your cancer. Just thinking positively will NOT get you pregnant, land you the job you always wanted, find you the partner you’ve been looking for, make you rich, or help you to never be sad again…

Telling yourself or someone you know who is struggling to “think positive” is HURTING them.

That’s right, you’re not only not helping them by telling them how to think, you’re shaming them for feeling/thinking whatever it is that they are thinking and feeling.

Positive thinking is *not* the antidote to pain, suffering, and life challenges.

Positivity isn’t a cure-all, just as negativity isn’t the root cause of all personal challenges.

I’m frequently saddened when I witness people shaming themselves (and others) for having raw and sometimes “ugly” feelings versus having shiny-happy-rainbow feelings.

Let’s get back to being real again!

“Emotions have helped us evolve as a species.”Dr. Susan David 

We are human, which means we feel a full range of emotions and have a full range of thoughts. Sometimes our feelings and thoughts are dark, negative, and sad. Sometimes our feelings and thoughts are hopeful, joyful and pleasant.

Positivity isn’t the new healthy. It’s a shield from being real.

What’s also NOT healthy: shaming yourself about having negative thoughts and telling yourself that things would be completely different if you “just think positive.”

Let’s stop making ourselves and other people feel bad for feeling bad. Instead, feel what you feel and support others to do the same. Be who you are.

Instead of shaming yourself for
not feeling or thinking a certain way,
work on cultivating compassion for who you are.

How? Try some of these…

1) Name one thing you love about who you are, every day for a week.

2) Think of one way you can be more self-caring or gentle with yourself, then try it out for the week.

3) Close your eyes and feel the power of your whole body working for you. Breathe into 3 separate parts of your body that feel strong, healthy or loving. Notice what it feels like to be connected to yourself in this way.

4) Try something new and no matter how it turns out, write yourself a congratulatory letter about going for it.

5) At the end of each day, write down one thing you did really well.

6) When you notice yourself going into critical self-talk, consider how you would talk to someone you love and reframe the conversation with yourself as if you’re talking with them.

While optimism has some proven benefits (but only for those who are in the 20% who already are “emotionally positive” to begin with), feeling your true feelings and being authentically you has many more positive effects!

Love, Rachel

P.S. A balance between optimism and space for your full range of feelings has the biggest benefits of all.
P.P.S. Take the MindBody IQ Quiz here. It’s fun and informative!

Shift your Mood: 7 Quick & Easy Body Tools

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 It’s your life. Choose your path and fully embody your whole self. It is with this intention that a beautiful journey will unfold within and before you. Make 2016 YOUR Year ~ Free Your Body, Free Your Mind Every new year, you make resolutions that don’t stick. Maybe you sign up for denial-driven programs that […]

Don’t miss it…!

“It’s a one-shot deal…” How many times have you heard this and it’s rarely (if ever) true…?  This time it IS true!   Recently I have been exposed to several untimely deaths, others who are struggling to stay alive and others who have recently been diagnosed with life-altering diseases. Although we all know that death is part of […]

Wondering where to find the wonder?

With summer ending and a new season beginning, it gives us an opportunity to become present to our lives in a new way. But how do we get present and find the wonder? A reflection…a suggestion…and an opportunity… I’m just returning from 2 weeks of being away from my everyday life. My first week away […]

6 Seconds to Stress Relief…really!

Did you know that hugs are a natural stress reliever? How cool is that?! Hugging for only 6 seconds releases dopamine — the feel-good hormone — in both the hugger and the “huggie” (is that even a word?). A few more words about hugs and your health… Hugs reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) Babies who […]

Are you having fun yet?

It was recess and the game was Capture the Flag. My big brother was in the sixth grade, and I was a few years behind in second grade. Usually, only the older kids played, but this time my big brother invited me to join his team. It was an extra special honor to be a […]

Inspiration & Empathy ~ A Human Experience

Have you noticed that stories of triumph often support you in feeling most alive, inspire you to overcome your own challenges and sometimes even bring you to tears? Me too! Did you know there’s a neuroscience and mind-body supported reason why these beautiful, life-affirming stories move us so deeply? I might be a bit of […]

7 Mind-Body Creativity Hacks

Do you want to become a better problem-solver, innovator and to access more of the creativity within you? Of course you do…who doesn’t! The most effective way to enhance your creativity is to get your whole body into the process. Here are 7 scientifically supported and totally awesome mind-body creativity hacks that involve all parts of you. Some […]

Stand Up for Yourself

By this subject line, you may assume that I’m suggesting that you hold your ground, or speak up for yourself, or stop being a people pleaser. However…I’m actually talking about… Standing up for yourself and for your health! STAND UP! Get out of your seat! Yep, it may seem like a silly suggestion, perhaps. Or […]

Love More, Live Longer

This one’s a short and oh so sweet one…! Create relationships. Connect. Give and receive support. Love. Be loved. Continue surrounding yourself with good people and meaningful relationships. Fill up your “connection containers” and live a longer, healthier life. This isn’t just touchy-feely stuff. This is back by facts! There are countless studies that show […]

Transform your Perspective

We all know that our mood is heavily impacted by our perspective. Knowing this fact and knowing what to do about it is a whole different story. I love this 3.5 minute video, based on the Growth Model from Carol Dweck. The video simply explains why it’s sometimes hard for us to shift our perspective.  The video also confirms […]

What Invigorates You?

When’s the last time that you felt full of life? How many days, weeks, months have passed since you last felt invigorated? You don’t have to wait or hope or wish that you could recreate that feeling of excitement about getting up every morning and starting your day. It doesn’t have to be difficult or […]

Authentic to the Core

What does it mean to be authentic? How do you you know when you are being your authentic self? When I am being my true self, I know it because I feel ease in my mind and freedom in my body. I am neither anticipating what’s next or belaboring what came before. I am present. […]

Are you living a “Good Life”?

How do you define living a “Good Life”? Are you living it? If not, what steps are you taking to create it? What does it feel like to think about these questions? It’s not uncommon to hear people say “I want a good life” but not really know what that actually means…and it’s so unique […]

Simple Shifts, Lasting Changes

Do you KNOW there’s more to life than this, but you’re finding it challenging to create change? Do you feel a bit alone in your quest for health and happiness? Do you feel a little stuck about what to do next? Do you make promises to yourself, but find it difficult to keep them? Often […]

Spring Cleaning for your Soul

Are you leaving space in you life for new challenges and new opportunities? Are you creating space in your body, lengthening and stretching and reaching, to create the life you want for yourself? For transformation and personal evolution to occur…to fully squeeze the juice out of life…both your mind and body have to be a part […]

Peace in Motion

Have you ever thought you’d like to meditate, but that you aren’t or wouldn’t be “good at it”…? Walking meditation might be your solution! First of all, just so you know, there is no such thing as not being good at meditation. All of us struggle with wandering minds – that’s our brain’s job (and […]

Are you Crazy-Busy?

When people ask, “How are you?” do you tend to answer with something like: “So busy!”…? Over the past few years, many articles have emerged about the function of our being so “busy” and how this “busy-ness” serves to distance us from our unique purpose, from connecting with others and from connecting to our authentic […]

It’s All Connected!

What is the mind-body connection? How does it work? How do you access it? Why would you want to? Only a few words this time…and instead some awesome mixed media to help you understand, appreciate, and gain some tips on how to access your mind-body connection! I could list endless references, movies, and more here, […]

How to Love your Life

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life.” – Steve Jobs We all know that we have limited time here, in this precious life. Yet, we don’t always live like each moment is our last, nor would it be healthy to do so! However, it’s valuable on occasion to remind ourselves of the […]

Making Peace with Pain

You know it and I know it: PAIN IS NO FUN! If given the choice, it would be very difficult to turn down a life of a pain-free existence, right?! However, there is no magic healing wand – sorry! And, this may sound nuts, but our pain can offer us powerful and often profound life […]

6 Life Lessons from a Balinese Offering

I just returned from a yoga vacation in Bali. It was an amazing, magical and beautiful trip on so many levels. One of the most striking aspects of Bali is its people… They are kind and they smile often. They are generous and warm. They take time and care in all they do. They don’t […]

5 Ways to be More Courageous

Do you fear … Speaking your truth? Trying new things? Being your authentic self? Exploring the unknown? Going for your dreams with all you’ve got? “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The […]

Releasing Regret and Finding Freedom

Do you have regrets? Most of us do.  What function does regret serve? How can we live more freely and release the pain of the missed opportunities of the past? When I was growing up, the quote “I woulda, coulda, shoulda, but I didn’t” was on my family’s bathroom wall (and is still posted there […]

Coming from Love

What’s your Heart Saying? If we approached all of life and every human interaction from a place of love, what would life be like? If we all lived from the voices of our hearts, what would our world be like? What might be different? Who might we be? We are often so go-go-go that we […]

How to Feel your Feelings…

You may be wondering, why would I want to feel my feelings?! Because…it’s life-changing in many great ways… If you missed last week’s discussion about the importance and value of feeling your feelings, you can read about it HERE. As promised last week, here are some ways to connect and begin the practice of feeling […]

5 Life-Changing Reasons…to Feel Your Feelings!

Do you avoid allowing yourself to feel what you’re really feeling? As human beings, we crave safety. We crave comfort. Often, our same-old same-old routine becomes our safety and comfort. Sometimes, it may seem easier to go on autopilot, without any consciousness about our internal experience. It’s natural and adaptive to want to avoid things […]

Moving through the Blues

Are these cold, short days getting into your body and making you feel a little slower than usual, a little more down than usual, or a little less motivated? Weather and sunlight can have a profound impact on your physical body as well as your mind. So, what can we do about it? Well, the […]

Happiness Jar

Capturing Happiness… As I’m sure you know, the more we allow in and connect with the happy moments in our day (even the very ordinary happy moments), the happier we are…duh…! I know, this idea isn’t groundbreaking, but sometimes putting this happiness thing into practice isn’t quite as simple – especially on those not-so-great days […]

How to Live with Intention

A new beginning is a marker that gives each of us an opportunity to get conscious about what we are creating inside ourselves and in the world. It’s a chance to start fresh, (re)design our lives, build new relationships, deepen existing relationships, and connect to our purpose. You get to create it! Each day we face […]

Revisiting your Year

Reflecting Back… Looking Ahead… Living in the Present… As 2014 comes to a close, we are given a great opportunity to reflect, rewind, recall, revisit, relive, and then ultimately reinvent. This process can be exciting, sad, joyful, frustrating, scary and more. As human beings, we often experience many conflicting feelings all at one time, which […]

3 Ways to Lean into Joy

Wholehearted Living… Do you lean into joy? Or do you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop? Are you often looking over your shoulder in expectation of the happiness you feel to disappear at any moment? If we don’t learn to be grateful or be vulnerable and present to what is in the […]