Parents and teachers have always corrected us when we slouched to sit up tall or stand straight. “You present better to others” or “People will reckon with what you have to say.” The latest research from Ohio University by psychology professor Richard Petty claims the effect of posture is even more profound, “But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.” Keep in mind that while you are sitting or standing in good alignment, you will believe the positive as well as the negative – so be careful what you are telling yourself or reading.
To manage stress-induced distraction and fatigue, like when you are slumped over your work or a steering wheel, I give my clients a quick strategy: simply rotate “Shoulders back and down.” This posture oxygenates the brain by positioning you in good spinal alignment. Also, note that the chest is open and not contracted, which symbolizes to others that you are open and ready to listen to them. Your back is straight manifesting pride and transmitting your conviction to them. What is fascinating about this new research is this kind of posturing inspires you to believe in yourself! In other words, sitting tall gives you that extra self-confidence.
The take home message is that instead of impressing others, you should impress yourself. Acting as if will habituate you to the state of mind you aspire. The body and mind communicate with each other – consciously and subconsciously. The placebo effect can alter the physical. If you believe that the medicine, surgery or therapy will work, there is a higher probability that it will. Similarly, the physical can alter perception. If you are experiencing pain or fatigue, it will color your mindset. Feel your body and you can decode your mind.
On a personal note I find that working on my balance through core exercises helps me to stabilize emotionally in daily conflicts and obstacles. When I work out, I try to have a specific intention for my body and for my mind. Because exercise requires good alignment to reap the physical benefit as well as to prevent injury, it can like good posture give you confidence in what you are thinking about while you are doing it. In other words, think it, do it and become it. For example, when doing walking lunges try imagining yourself as walking to your next happiness.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com