Posture = Good Mood?
Sitting has now been coined “the new smoking”, meaning the health risks of sitting now outweigh those of smoking! Have you heard that sitting too much just might kill you? It is mostly due to the lack of movement translating into an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
"Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death," says James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in an interview with the LA Times.
Prolonged compression on the lower spinal discs will exacerbate pre-existing back problems, and a forward head posture will put added stress and strain to the cervical discs. To add insult to injury, it turns out that spending your day hunched over a computer also has major ramifications for your mental well-being.
The problem: Poor posture can put you in a bad mood and make you feel more depressed.
A number of studies have suggested that poor posture may exacerbate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even if your mental health is generally solid, there are good reasons to think that you'd be happier—and healthier—if you simply sat and stood up straighter.
Here are three ways improving your posture will improve your mental and emotional health, and exactly how to do it so you begin scoring the benefits.
1. You'll Feel More Energetic
"The prolonged stress and strain on your spine can make you feel heavy and achy, which leads to being tired and irritable." says Dr. Jenn.
One study, published in the journal Biofeedback, concluded: Participants who slouched while walking felt more depressed. When they shifted to a more upright position, their outlook and energy levels increased. When you slouch, you compress your diaphragm and cannot take as big of an inhale and therefore do not get as much oxygen to the brain. An increased amount of oxygen to the brain will make you feel more awake and energized.
2. You'll Get A Confidence Boost
When you want to project confidence, your stance is key. Dr. Jenn explains, "If you carry yourself in a certain way"—shoulders back, abdomen in, spine aligned—"it exudes confidence and an amicable demeanor.” The opposite is also true: A slouchy posture conveys an “I don’t care” attitude.
Maintaining good posture won't only make you look more confident; research shows that you'll actually feel better about yourself. A study in Health Psychology found that people who feel stressed can kick their negative mood and even boost their self-esteem by sitting upright. Other research found that good posture was associated with better body image among people with depression.
3. Affects How Others See You
Your posture not only affects how you see yourself, but how others see you. If you’re slumped or slouching during a job interview, for example, the interviewer will likely see you as less confident, and perhaps will have a neural impulse to judge you as less capable.
If you have good posture, with your shoulders back and your body aligned, you can look better in your clothes and will likely receive more compliments, which will boost your confidence and mood. When you appreciate how you look in the mirror, it makes you feel lighter and more positive.
How to Improve Your Posture Now
There are several ways to improve your posture. Start with being mindful. Notice if your head is leaning forward or if you are slouching in your chair. Make a point to get up and walk around every 30-45 minutes if you spend most of your day sitting.
The body breaks don’t have to be long, 1-2 minutes is fine as long as you are moving. You can even open your arms outward and pinch your shoulder blades together for 30 seconds. As you move your spine more often, you will decrease the chance for muscles to tighten up. You will also get the added benefits of increased lymph and oxygen to different areas of your body.
Make sure you get regular chiropractic check-ups. Just like you maintain your car’s performance through regular maintenance, your body deserves the same attention. A professional chiropractor will be able to re-align the spine and other joints that get stuck in positions that cut off vital nerve flow.
Exercise in general is wonderful for postural improvement. Yoga works with your breath so that movements are easier to perform. Yoga classes typically promote overall flexibility and stability in the spine.