The Posture of Happiness
When someone’s unhappy, their posture shows it. Body language expresses our mood and attitude. It’s common-sense to know a friend is feeling down when her posture is slumping over. New research shows it’s a two way street – how you hold your body affects your mental attitude, and your state of mind will change how you hold your body.
Living with tech means posture can suffer as we sit, type and text for hours each day. Researchers are finding significant health consequences, which is one reason posture is trending. Another is the explosion of ergonomic products from standing desks to upscale mattresses to vibrating shirts and posture apps to make us look and age better, or just avoid back and neck pain, by improving posture.
Doctors, chiropractors and therapists who treat muscle and joint pain call it an epidemic, and say the problem and society’s poor posture habits are accelerating. More children are being diagnosed with back pain, and some professionals observe many kids with posture that’s worse than their parents, pointing to a risk for developing bodies. As well as developing minds.
Posture and Mood Research
Smart posture habits can make a big difference in mind and body. Studies show self-esteem and mood can be improved by sitting (or standing) tall, with head, torso and hips aligned. When people sit straight, their short-term memory is better, as is their reported alertness, self-esteem and energy level. Improving your body alignment can even make you feel more energized, as another study found people deprived of sleep could counter fatigue by holding their posture upright.
The Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry released a study concluding that even people who suffer with depression can improve their mood by improving posture. Hunched over posture is a diagnostic feature of clinical depression, as the person’s body literally folds in to withdraw from life. This postural breakdown with rolled in shoulders is also associated with negative emotions, anxiety, and using more “anger” words in conversation.
Researcher Elizabeth Broadbent and her team found changing people’s posture reduced their reported anxiety and negative emotions. The participants who were made to sit up tall used less negative words. And, they said the word “I” less frequently, which reflects an improvement in the directing of their attention outward.
Attention and mindfulness connects our physical and mental health. Meditation is widely considered beneficial for stress reduction, productivity and improving happiness. The mind-to-body connection is real – as is the one between body and mind.
ligning Posture and Attitude