Republished with permission from Musely an Evio Community Partner
The next time you're feeling down, pay attention to your posture. According to doctors, you’ll likely be slumped over with your neck and shoulders hunched and head looking down. Why? Doctors believe that poor posture can put you in a bad mood and make you feel more stressed and depressed.
“We’re a very forward-leaning society - we drive forward, lean forward, slouch over our desks all day,” says William Smith, an exercise physiologist in Morristown, New Jersey and co-author of Exercises for Perfect Posture. We're also constantly craning our necks over to look at our smartphones, too.
While there currently isn't any evidence that proves that poor posture directly causes serious problems like clinical depression and anxiety, a number of studies have suggested that it may worsen the symptoms of these disorders. They suggest that even if you have good mental health, sitting and standing up straighter can still make you happier and healthier.
YOU'LL HAVE MORE ENERGY
Research has proven the connection between poor posture and fatigue, especially in people who have depression. A study published last year in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that patients with mild to moderate depression felt more alert after keeping their back and shoulders upright while sitting. They also reported less anxiety. Who would have thought something so simple could make such a difference?
Another study, published in the journal Biofeedback, came to a similar conclusion: Participants who slouched while walking felt more depressed. When they switched to a more upright position, their mood improved and energy levels increased.
YOU'LL GAIN MORE CONFIDENCE
Smith says that maintaining good posture will make you appear more confident. “If you carry yourself in a certain way” - shoulders back, abdomen in, spine aligned - ”it exudes confidence and an affable demeanour,” says Smith. The opposite is also true: What do you picture when you think of a person who is insecure? Most likely someone who is slouching and closed off.
Research confirms that good posture will make you feel better about yourself. A study in Health Psychology found that people who feel stressed can fight off 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.
YOU'LL BE LESS GUARDED
Smith argues that when you have bad posture you're literally guarding yourself, meaning you're not open to new relationships or ideas. "So much of how we communicate is non-verbal, and I've noticed that if someone has a slouched posture or altered gait, it often indicates that there's something they're not willing to talk about or tell you," says Smith. "There's a lot to be said for just standing up, pulling your shoulders back, and saying 'I'm going to face the day.'".