You’ve probably heard it your entire life from parents, grandparents, school teachers, doctors, and every other adult or authority figure in your life: “Stand/sit up straight!” After hearing it so much, you don’t really think of the importance anymore. As a child, you just assume it is something that people say to you to impose yet another rule.
When you start getting older, you may start to consider the benefits of good posture a bit more. When your back gets sore or you catch yourself slumped over in your chair in an awkward position, you think about all those times you were told to sit or stand up straight. Maybe there was a reason behind all that barking after all.
What many of us don’t think about is the relationship between good posture and mood. Did you know that having good posture can actually make you a happier person? If you didn’t, now is the time to find out the link so you can understand just how important it is to your overall mental health and well being.
The Science Behind Body Posture Psychology
You’ve probably heard someone say that smiling can make you feel better. Even when you aren’t unhappy but sitting with no expression, a complete stranger can walk by and say, “smile!” If you’ve ever tried it, you’ve probably discovered that it can actually make you feel better, even when you aren’t sad.
The Idea Behind Good Posture
The idea of good posture and sitting up straight are kind of the same. Researchers were so interested in the connection that they did testing on people with depression. Someone that is suffering from depression or another disorder related to mood often exhibits the physical sign of slouching over. While it isn’t the only reason people have poor posture, they started to see a connection and wanted to see how it could be changed.
In the study, 61 people with poor posture were tested. Half of them were asked to keep their existing posture and the other half were made to sit up straight. Following that separation of the two groups, they were given tests to take that were purposefully supposed to be stressful. Those that were made to sit up straight showed:
- Less fatigue
- Improved mood
- More spoken words
- Less self-focus
While it’s a pretty small test and more research is needed on the subject, this makes it clear to see that there is definitely a relationship between sitting up straight and an improvement in mood.
Additional Benefits to Sitting and Standing Up Straight
While being happier is a nice benefit that comes along with good posture, there are a lot of others that you can also take advantage of. Before you let yourself slump over in your chair, think about how you can:
- Use muscles properly with joints and bones in the correct spot
- Lower chances for the early wearing of joints that could lead to arthritis and other conditions
- Decrease back and muscle pain
- Have more energy
- Don’t get stuck in an unnatural position
- Lower stress on other parts of your body
- Look better!
You want your body to stay in the best condition as possible for as long as possible. In order for that to happen, you have to make sure that you’re using it correctly. Your spine was meant to be straight, not slouched over. By walking, standing, and sitting how you were intended to, your body will feel less pressure and stress, be less sore, and function in the way that it is supposed.
What Good Posture is Supposed to Look Like
If you’ve been sitting and standing in an unnatural way since you were younger, there’s a good chance that you aren’t even sure how you’re supposed to look anymore. In some cases, sitting or standing up straight can actually be temporarily painful because your body isn’t used to that position. It won’t take long to get things back in order, and when you do, it’s going to be worth it. Here is what you should be visualizing when thinking about good posture:
- Your weight evenly distributed on both feet when standing
- Knees pointed forward and even
- Even hips
- Braced abdominal muscles
- Chin parallel to the ground
- Even shoulders (accomplish this by rolling your shoulders up, back, and then down)
- Neutral spine (don’t overemphasize the curve in the back)
- Arms evenly at your sides
- Even and straight elbows
It may take you a little while to figure out exactly what your personal good posture is supposed to look like, but when you get it, you will be able to feel it. Don’t stop practicing to achieve it every single day. It might be a little bit of work, but when you feel happier and more energetic, you’re only going to be upset with yourself that you didn’t do it sooner.
How to Improve Your Posture and Your Mood
The quickest and easiest way to improve your posture and your mood is by just being more aware. As soon as you think of your posture and emotion connection, think about how you are sitting or standing and if you can make any improvements. You could be walking around at work or sitting at a desk thinking about how miserable and tired you are. Instead of reaching for a caffeinated beverage or sneaking off for a quick nap, align your body positioning. You might be surprised at how much better you feel instantly.
If you have more severe mental health issues than just being a tad bit tired or grumpy, it’s always recommended that you seek out additional, professional help. You can’t harm yourself by taking care of your posture, but you shouldn’t use it as your only form of treatment.
Consider seeing Better Health Chiropractic in Anchorage or your own local chiropractor for help with your posture. These professionals understand the science of posture and how important it is for you to achieve and maintain it for your mental health. If there is something wrong with your spine or neck that is keeping you from being able to keep a good posture, they can do the necessary adjustments and alignments to get you back into the proper position.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. Currently a chiropractor in Anchorage, Alaska, he founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998.
He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.
Dr. Wells is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.