Posture and Stress

I have a semi-serious question for you today. You know the old riddle, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”? That’s not my question, but it’s similar. Ready? Here it is. Do you slouch because you’re stressed? Or are you stressed because you’re slouching? Scientists are uncovering links between your mood and your posture. And it turns out the two are tied together in powerful ways. Who knew that posture & stress are related?!

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 stand or sit 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 your back than get into your head. Researchers also found that sitting tall can reduce feeling self-conscious, shore up your self-esteem, and improve your mood. Pretty awesome, right!?

What if you already are 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.

Another chicken-egg question: Do weak core muscles cause bad posture, or does bad posture cause weak core muscles? The two go hand-in-hand!

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.  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!