Can improving your posture boost your mood?
The connection between posture and mood is an interesting thing. We commonly think about the importance of improving our posture for the physical benefits, but what about the emotional benefits? In this post we’ll explore how our posture can impact us physically as well as emotionally.
What is "perfect posture"?
In my opinion, there’s no such thing as “perfect” posture.
Your posture does not need to be “perfect” for you to feel good physically and emotionally.
That being said, a more upright posture is better than a slumped posture for your overall wellbeing so when I talk about improving your posture throughout this post, this is what I mean.
Physical benefits of improving your posture:
Research on posture and mood
There are research studies out there that have looked at the relationship between posture and mood.
In a study performed by Nair et al., they found that an upright posture led to increased self esteem, decreased negative mood, and improved focus.
Another study by Veenstra et al., found that a stooped posture led to an increase in negative thoughts and a decrease in recovery from a negative mood.
So the relationship of posture and mood is based on science guys..
Think about the posture of someone who is sad or think about your own posture when you’re feeling down. Usually, an image of someone with slumped posture, forward shoulders, and their head downs will come to mind.
Now think of someone who you perceive as confident. They probably have they shoulders back, spine straight, and head lifted in line with the rest of their body.
Our physical body reflects our emotional state. So if negative emotions can lead to poor posture, can’t the opposite also happen? Can poor posture lead to negative emotions?
In my opinion, slumped posture can keep us in a more negative state.
Our body gets used to repetitive things that we do. So if you are constantly in slumped posture, your body gets used to this and you will frequently find yourself in this position.
For example, say you went through a break up and felt really sad; you probably held yourself in a slumped and forward position for a little while. Your body can get used to this position if you are in it for too long and you will now have to consciously try to change your posture. So even though you feel you’re over the break-up, your poor posture is still there and signaling to your body that you’re still in a negative space emotionally. If you work on improving your posture, you can start to break up this emotional habit.
Posture and energy
Posture is also related to your energy level. Adapting a more upright posture is a natural energy booster. This is one of the reasons why it’s recommended to sit up when meditating, because sitting upright helps keep you awake.
I know I personally see the relationship between posture and energy when I’m working on my computer. If I sit and work on the couch where I’m leaning back and supported, I tend to get tired quickly. (It also doesn’t help that I have dogs snuggling around me when I work on the couch 😆) When I work at my desk and sit upright away from the back of my chair, I stay more energized and focused.
Tips to improve your posture
Improving your posture is a lot about breaking the habit of being slumped. You have to teach those postural muscles to work again! (There are way more things that go into improving your posture than listed below but I wanted to give you guys some easy things to try.)
1. Check in with yourself throughout the day.
If you notice you are slumped forward, sit up tall. If you notice your head is forward, tuck your chin slightly. If you notice your shoulders are all the way up by your ears, drop them down. It may be helpful to set a timer and check in with yourself every hour in the beginning of trying to improve your posture. As you work on this, you will notice more quickly when you fall back into old habits.
2. Perform exercises that encourage upright posture.
I have a yoga flow for posture that I will link right here: click here for video.
3. Work on your posture while meditating!
When people start meditating, one of the most difficult parts is usually sitting up straight for a prolonged duration because for many of us, this is a posture we’re not used to. This is a great way to make your postural muscles stronger all while receiving the multiple other benefits that meditation offers.
When you first start, it may be difficult to sit up straight without support for even just 5 minutes but it does get easier. I know I felt my postural muscles really working when I first started meditating and now I can sit for a while without noticing them at all.
Final thoughts on posture and mood
Now, I’m not saying that improving your posture will fix all issues related to mood, emotions, and energy but it’s a good place to start.
Even though improving your posture may be hard work, it’s a natural and simple way to improve your wellbeing.
Even if you don’t feel positive emotions such as confidence, if you hold yourself with the posture of someone confident, your mind will start to be like ok the body is confident, I should be too.
Improving your posture to be more upright also helps your energy flow better and when energy is flowing nicely, everyone is happier.
The relationship of posture and mood is another example of the amazing connection of our mind, body, and soul.
Nair, S., Sagar, M., Sollers, J., Consedine, N., & Broadbent, E. (2015). Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychology, 34(6), 632–641. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000146
Veenstra, L., Schneider, I. K., & Koole, S. L. (2016). Embodied mood regulation: the impact of body posture on mood recovery, negative thoughts, and mood-congruent recall. Cognition and Emotion, 31(7), 1361–1376. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2016.1225003
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