My current podcast fave Tonya Leigh says you can tell a lot from the way someone carries themselves. Posture and attitude are reflected in each other. For example if you keep your arms crossed when you speak, you tend to take short, clipped strides when walking. If you are slouched over with your head down, it could be assumed that you are tired, depressed or insecure. Yet if you sashay down the street with a smile on your face people will assume you are confident, happy and enjoying life.
Minds and bodies are connected and it might be fun to play around with posture to influence your mind. Sit up and use your posture to project the feeling you want to have with shoulders back, head up and looking the world in the eyes.
It’s a philosophy called embodied cognition – the relationship between body can influence the mind, and the way our mind triggers how the body reacts https://www.fastcompany.com/3041688/the-surprising-and-powerful-links-between-posture-and-mood
You may have seen photos of politicians “power posing” trying to demonstrate confidence, but according to Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_may_shape_who_you_are) it’s actually about changing hormone levels in the brain.
Giang’s article goes on to suggest that how we feel may be something to do with height. If one person is looking down on another they may feel more powerful (see Two Ronnies sketch with John Cleese!), as there is an association with height and power, which in turn affects attitude. According the study cited by Giang, research subjects who sat upright had an easier time thinking about positive, empowering traits in themselves than those who were instructed to sit slouched, looking at their knees. The study found that just as emotions and thoughts can affect poster and energy levels, the opposite is true that posture and energy can affect our emotions and thoughts.
As well as the physical affect that continued slouching has on our back, hips, neck and shoulders, it can affect mental health too. According to https://montarebehavioralhealth.com/posture-and-mental-health/# sitting up straight helps with balance and form and is also linked to increased energy, better concentration and mood, increased confidence, promotes positive emotions and better productivity and persistence. They suggest moving around every 20 minutes or so to reset posture and blood flow, making sure the TV or monitor is in the right place so you don’t have to slouch across to see it and, trying posture improving exercises like yoga.
I am conscious of the fact I tend to fold my arms when I speak, particularly when standing up. This has nothing necessarily to do with what mood I’m in, but more that it’s something to do with my arms that would otherwise just be floating around with nothing to do. I do slouch. A lot. We had a manual handling officer at work who would literally slap you across the shoulders if she saw you slouching or your chair was at the wrong height. She wouldn’t get away with that now, but when you heard her coming, you suddenly found yourself straightening up. I know that when I’m sitting on the sofa at home, I tend to curl up, so my back, shoulders and neck are bent round and I do find myself trying to sit up straighter. I do try to walk tall though, except when I’m trying to keep up with C!
If your posture could speak, what would it be saying right now?
One thought on “Feeling low? Check your posture”
Good job I’m heading back to a proper yoga class today then 😀