Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Do you slouch because you're stressed or are you stressed because you slouch?
Scientists are uncovering links between your mood and your posture, and it turns out the two are tied together in powerful ways.
For most of us, that stress-posture question probably works in both directions. But there's a surprising amount of research that shows that how you sit and stand has a pretty big impact on your stress level, self-confidence, and your mood!
Not only does your posture impact how others see you (happy and confident vs. depressed and guarded), it can play a role in how YOU see the world!
For example, a study published in the journal, Health Psychology, found that sitting upright (vs. slumped) might help you build resilience to stress -- i.e. stress is more apt to roll off you than get into your head.
Research also found that sitting tall can reduce feeling self-conscious, shore up your self-esteem, and improve your mood. Reference.
But, what if you're already feeling a little down in the dumps?
No one is suggesting that improving your posture will cure clinical depression, but for people with symptoms of mild to moderate depression, researchers say study participants who sat up straight felt less anxiety and their mood improved.
Not only that, they even experienced less fatigue! Reference.
So what is "good" posture, anyway?
Think of your body as a mountain, with its base at your feet. The mountain rises up tall through the front of your body -- your shins, quadriceps, core, chest, and shoulders -- and then goes down your back, hips, hamstrings and calves.
All of these muscles work together to hold your body in place, keep your balance, etc.
They can even affect your breathing! For example if your shoulders are rounded forward and your chest muscles are tight, it can be hard to expand your lungs for a deep breath.
That's why it can be especially important to think about your posture when you exercise. After all, if you're working to make your body stronger, you might as well make it stronger in an upright, aligned posture. I especially focus on my posture when I'm walking and when I'm doing yoga.
Most of us don't give much thought to our posture. It's automatic -- we rely on our muscles to take care of it for us. There are a lot of muscles that are involved in maintaining proper posture, and paying attention to them constantly would be overwhelming and and unrealistic expectation.
The next time you're walking or doing any type of workout, take a good look at your posture. If you can't do a quick posture check in a mirror, then just take a moment to at least think about it.
Are you standing tall with your core engaged? Are your shoulders back, chest up, and legs strong?
Or are you reinforcing patterns that you don't love, with your shoulders rounded or your joints locked.
When you start training your body the way you want to look, you'll reinforce your mind-muscle connection and you'll reap the benefits!
Your posture will start to improve even when you're not exercising, your core will get stronger, and there's a good chance you'll notice a boost in your confidence, too!
Which comes first, bad posture or weak core muscles?
One major way to help improve your posture is to strengthen your muscles so standing/sitting tall becomes second nature. This can mean stretching your chest/shoulder/hip muscles, strengthening your back, and working your core muscles from the inside out.
I've outlined a complete program for strengthening your core muscles in my free Restore Your Core guide! You can get it by clicking below!
You'll learn the three phases of core strengthening.
In the meantime, the next time you're in a stressful situation, try "faking it" by sitting or standing tall, with your shoulders back and chest open.
It certainly can't hurt, and you might find yourself in a better mood and even feel less self-conscious. Plus, your self-confidence will go up, which can help you battle that stress like a champ!
*If you're feeling long-standing symptoms of depression, stress, or anxiety you should talk to your doctor about it. But if you're battling everyday stress, it can help to stand up tall and conquer it!
Give it a try and let us know in the comments if you feel a boost of self-confidence, energy, and happiness when you sit or stand up straight.
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Hi, I’m Crystal!