Lack of energy is another feature of low mood. In the midst of depression, it can feel like you’re walking through glue. But even on the odd down day when our mood could not be classified as depression, energy levels can be debilitatingly low. The treatment is often medication. But studies suggest that getting up and moving our body in specific ways, could significantly boost our energy levels.
A joint study between San Francisco State University in California and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan tested the effect of movement on energy levels. Before beginning the experiment, participants were assessed for tendencies towards depression and a baseline energy level was taken. Participants were asked to “slouch walk” (poor posture with stooped shoulders) for 2-3 minutes after which their energy levels were assessed. They were then asked to “opposite arm skip” (raise the right with the left leg, left arm with the right leg and look up) for 2-3 minutes. Energy levels were again assessed and both assessments were compared to the baseline level assessed before the experiment began.
For the whole group, slouched walking decreased energy levels while opposite arm skipping “rapidly and significantly increased” their energy levels. All participants also reported that opposite arm skipping felt happier, more positive or “evoked happy childhood memories.” In contrast, slouched walking “felt sad, lonely, isolated, sleepy…wanting to just sit down…zombie-like.”
The results were more pronounced for people who who scored in the top 20% on the depression assessment. For them, the negative effect of slouch walking was significant.
Another free, simple yet powerful tool for managing moods.