A heavy load can weigh on mood and mind

By Shayna Brouker • Published: February 17th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

What’s in your purse? If you’re like most women, you’re schlepping enough stuff to survive on your own in the wild at least a day. Your phone, wallet, makeup, hand sanitizer, a day planner and snacks are only the beginning. You’ve probably heard that carrying too much in your carryall can throw off alignment and harm your back … but can it actually cause you angst?

According to a study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, lugging a heavy load can actually weigh down your mental state, too. The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Behavior, had volunteers carry bags loaded with bags of water bottles that weighed ten pounds. Then they were asked questions about the importance of expressing opinions in public, reading nutrition labels and staying socially connected.

Compared with the control group carrying lighter loads, those with the weighty bags were more likely to say these issues were important; that is, the problems of society actually weighed heavier on their minds. Simply saying words like “heavy” and “loaded” was enough to make them ponder bigger problems.

So it seems bearing physical weight can amplify issues in our minds. But a similar study found a solution: Downplay the effects of the heavy load by thinking of lightweight objects, like feathers and balloons. So the next time you’re trudging through the mall, suddenly feeling stressed and burdened by all the bothers of the world, just let your thoughts linger on lighter things. That, and think about perhaps downsizing your purse. Jettison all the junk and lug only what you absolutely need. Make sure the weight is distributed evenly across your body and maintain a strong core to stay balanced. A lighter load can keep your back — and your mind — feeling lithe.