Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Want to Change Your Mood? Give Voice to Your Smile!

How often have you casually asked someone, "How are you doing?", and then heard them say, "Fine, doing great" in a flat low-energy voice. You know immediately how they really feel.

We can often tell where someone is emotionally based only on their voice alone. But what about our own voice? Can we self-detect emotional cues as we speak?



Emotional Voice Self-Awareness


In a fascinating study published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", researchers had participants read a story while wearing earphones connected to an electronic device that manipulated each reader's voice. The voice was altered to sound happier, sadder, or fearful, as the story progressed. Participants heard their own altered voice through the earphones as they read aloud. 


Researchers tracked the emotional states of participants as they read the story. The vast majority of subjects never consciously detected that their voices were manipulated, but they did notice their emotional states change as they read the story. The story content was neutral. 


An interesting take-away for self-awareness is we are usually not conscious of the role our own voice plays in influencing emotional states. The good news is we can choose to listen with a mindfully tuned ear and change our voice to help change our emotions and mood.



Give Voice to Your Smile!


At age 16 I sold newspaper subscriptions for the "New York Times" by phone. The advice I received from my then manager is the advice that has been given to countless telemarketers for decades: smile!


When you smile - even if you don't feel like smiling - your emotions come along for the ride. People can "hear" a smile. You sound different because you are different. Your brain changes, your physiology changes, and your voice changes to reflect the "happier you". 



How to Develop the Smiling Voice Habit


Try this: Notice how you feel right now. Do a quick body scan and get a sense of your energy level and overall mood. 


After assessing your current energy level and mood, sit up in a dignified posture, look straight out with a soft focus as if looking at a sunset in the distance. Next, place a pencil or pen between your upper and lower teeth. This creates an automatic smile as you gently hold the pencil or pen in place for about 90-seconds. 


After removing the pencil or pen, notice how you feel. Do another quick body scan and notice what's changed. Do you feel more energized, happier, more centered?


Allow yourself to really feel the positive energy and sensations as you say to yourself, "smiling voice". Repeat "smiling voice" two more times as you smile". After doing this just a few times, you will find it easy to create this positive emotional state simply by saying, "smiling voice". Use this "smiling voice" anchor cue before making calls, talking with others, or anytime you want a quick emotional boost.


Remember these lyrics in the Frank Sinatra song years ago?


"When you're smiln, when you're smilin, the whole world smiles with you..."


Great lyrics and sound advice.


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*Study citation: Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers' emotional states in a congruent direction, Jean-Julien Aucouturier,PNASDOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506552113 

photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    


Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other written posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website, with Stephen Carter, or with Stress Solutions, LLC does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, emotional, or physical conditions.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Can Stress Affect Good Gut Bacteria? Ask a Squirrel!

Researchers have discovered a link between low stress and percentage of beneficial communities of micro-organisms in the gut and other regions of the body1.

While this study was conducted using red squirrels living in the wild, the same relationship between low stress and beneficial micro-organisms (e.g., good gut bacteria) in humans is probable.

Study findings show a direct inverse relationship between stress and the type of micro-organisms present. High stress increased the non-beneficial micro-organisms, while low stress correlated with a higher percentage of good micro-organisms.

Implications for Humans


What implications does this have for humans? Obviously, we know based on thousands of studies that chronic high stress is typically harmful for health. Our physical, mental, and emotional well-being suffer when a chronic high-stress environment is experienced.

Options for People


So what do we do? Research shows meditation and other stress lowering practices have proven to be beneficial for enhancing health and emotional well-being.

If - as this study suggests - high stress is associated with a less than beneficial balance between good and bad micro-organisms in the gut, exploring the use of a high-quality probiotic may be beneficial if stress is a problem for you. As always, consult your physician before taking any supplements, over-the-counter, or prescription medications.

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Link between stress, unhealthy microbiomes discovered: http://bit.ly/1ZPBO1m

Journal reference

  1. Mason R. Stothart, Colleen B. Bobbie, Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde, Rudy Boonstra, Rupert Palme, Nadia C. S. Mykytczuk, Amy E. M. Newman. Stress and the microbiome: linking glucocorticoids to bacterial community dynamics in wild red squirrelsBiology Letters, January 2015 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0875

photo 
Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC
    


Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other written posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website, with Stephen Carter, or with Stress Solutions, LLC does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, emotional, or physical conditions.