There are certain things we have probably been hearing since we were little. Eat your veggies, get outside, and sit up straight! Whether it starts at school, the dinner table, or piano lessons, talking about posture starts early and becomes a passing thought when you’re on your fifth hour of a project at your computer. Posture is, however, worth more than a passing thought. It can affect more than just people’s perception of you.
We’ve often thought that slouching is a result of feeling down, but the road goes both ways. Sometimes we feel down because of our poor posture. The research that has been done on this topic so far shows that sitting up straight makes it easier to believe confident, empowering thoughts. Slouching, on the other hand, makes it easier to believe negative thoughts, and harder to believe positive, empowering thoughts. If you’ve ever had a particularly grueling workday in front of technology (where most of us have terrible posture) and feel drained and exhausted, this may be a part of the equation.
Okay, so the list of ways posture can positively or negatively affect your physical health is... long. Very long. Some big cons of poor posture: tech neck, tight shoulders, shortened breath due to less lung capacity, poor digestion, low back pain, tight chest, tight hamstrings, tight hips, and decreased energy. These are the big ones, but the list could go on and on depending on the ways in which posture could be improved (like if you tend to lean to one side or favor a certain leg when you cross your legs).
Pros of good posture: less chronic pain, ability to breathe easier and fuller breaths, and better digestion. These positive effects also tend to domino into other positive effects like improved mood, brain function, immunity, and productivity.
You can imagine if you’re able to reduce chronic pain and improve your physical and mental health, things get a lot easier. Improved lung capacity, digestion, and mental health are potent tools when you want to get things done more easily. In this case, it’s all about working smarter (not harder).
With better health comes more productivity. So what do you do about it when all you want to do is collapse on the couch and watch a movie while simultaneously scrolling through pictures of avocado toast on instagram?
How to improve posture
Most of us want to sit and stand up straight, but the moment we turn our minds to something other than our posture, we find ourselves hunched with our shoulders by our ears. There are a few terrific and easy ways to begin improving the situation.
Tech can sometimes be both the problem and the answer. There are a number of great apps that can provide you with reminders and exercises to help give you a mood lifter throughout the day without you having to change your entire routine.
You could also set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up and walk around. Get yourself a glass of water or a cup of coffee and take a few deep breaths. This is a great posture and mental health aid— just make sure your break is tech-free. Facebook doesn’t count.
Some other quick tips I highly recommend are being deliberate about how you arrange your workspace. Place your computer so that you can sit with your neck in line with your shoulders and hips. Adjust your chair so that your feet rest on something whether it’s the floor or a telephone book. Also, hang your pictures at a height that can bring your gaze a little higher.
If you’re suffering from a posture related injury or chronic pain, I highly recommend physical therapy or consulting a doctor. Minor changes may not make the difference you need to give you relief, and a bigger time commitment might be necessary to improve the situation. Your health is worth your time.