The mind and the body are deeply connected. Any kind of disturbance or break in the harmony in the way the mind or body works affects the way we feel. It is what we call embodied cognition – which refers to the deep relationship that exists between the mind and the body. The state of the physical body triggers the mind and the thoughts in our head influence the body’s reactions.
But the current generations are constantly staring at their computers or mobile phones with their backs slouched and heads tilted downwards. This not only has a negative effect on our thoughts, but also can be an explanation for the increasing stress levels and rise of depression in recent years.
Here are some ways in which your posture affects your mental health:
1. Stress relief
A good posture helps release stress. When you stand straight or sit upright, it exudes confidence in your mind and reduces the levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a hormone related to stress. A study from the University of Auckland also found that people sitting upright exhibited a more positive emotional state than people who were slumped. With a good posture, the brain translates the muscular and hormonal signals attached to the bodily posture into positive thoughts and emotions can can greatly reduce stress levels.
2. Better memory levels
Clinical psychologists at the University of Hildeshein and the Ruhr University Bochum did a study on the impact of sitting posture on memory. In their experiment, they found that people sitting in a slouched or slumped posture had a higher tendency to recall negative memories and depressed patients sitting in the upright position can exhibit a more balanced memory for more positive and less negative thoughts.
3. Increased confidence levels
The way we position ourselves can determine our hormone levels. Something as simple as sitting upright and incorporating power poses can increase testosterone levels in the body, thus making you more confident and helping you become a better, more influential manager. An increase in confidence gives way to more positive feelings about oneself, and taking care of oneself to achieve more with each passing day.
4. Increases tolerance for risk
Standing tall can make you 45% more likely to take a risky bet. Posing in high power nonverbal displays causes neuroendocrine and behavioural changes for human beings. High-power posers experience elevations in testosterone and decrease in cortisol. A good posture increases feelings of power and tolerance for risk.
If you are feeling sad or depressed, you might want to pay close attention to your posture.
According to cognitive scientists, a person feeling low will likely be slumped over with the neck and shoulders curved forward and head looking down. A series of experiments by Erik Peper, professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University found that sitting in a collapsed, helpless position makes it easier for negative thoughts and memories to appear in the mind. And sitting in an upright, powerful position makes it easier for letting empowering thoughts and memories take over the mind.