What if changing your posture could improve your anxiety?
Take a moment to notice the position you’re in. Are you looking down reading this on your phone, rounded forward at your desk or lying on the couch with your computer in your lap? (my favourite faux pas).
If you answered yes to one of these questions, you’re likely among 80% of the population suffering from posture issues. Text neck, desk slump, Netflix marathons and a sedentary lifestyle have all lead to a new generation suffering from neck, jaw, and shoulder pain, headaches and permanent spinal changes. What’s more, these posture issues are contributing to higher anxiety levels in people of all ages.
If you’ve suffered from anxiety you know how overwhelming it can be. Anxiety can affect your sleep, decision making, relationships and most importantly- your ability to enjoy your days.
There are many techniques that help anxiety – from meditation to medications…but what if simply changing your body position could make a substantial difference?
It’s hard to believe that simply sitting at you desk or playing on your phone affects your breathing, nerve system, hormones and body chemistry- but more and more research is telling us that’s true.
Try this to feel the powerful effect of posture changes:
- Think of a happy memory- notice where the energy is in your body and what position you shifted into. Did your head tilt up or your shoulders drop open?
- Think of a stressful time – notice your body wanting to protect itself by hunching forward and curling in.
It’s pretty amazing that we innately change positions according to how we feel (like a dog who tucks his tail), but what’s more amazing is that the reverse is also true:
When you change your posture it changes how you feel.
Researcher Amy Cuddy famously gave a TED talk discussing how body posture affects who you are on a minute by minute basis.
Her research suggests that we can change our body chemistry (and other people’s perceptions of our mood) simply by changing our body position.
What does she mean by posture “affecting who you are”?
It makes sense that our moods affect our thoughts and decisions and over time, they significantly impact our lives.
In other words, if you’re feeling anxious and upset vs. content – do you make the same decision about what to eat, who to call, or even how to respond to your spouse? Of course not.
Here’s more of the latest research:
A study from Scientific America concluded:
“If you want to predict how people will act in any given moment, it may make sense to look to their posture instead of their role or title. “
Another study found that adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem and reduce negative mood!
Other researchers have shown a clear correlation between posture and anxiety (among other mental health conditions). A powerful study by Harvard University found that sitting up straight improved symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
With everything going on in the world there’s no better time to sit or stand up straight. It’s a simple strategy to help build resilience to stress, and there are no side effects!
Fixing your posture doesn’t have to be one more thing you have to make time for.
Here are 4 simple steps that take no time at all:
1.Notice how you sit in your chair.
The position of your pelvis (buttocks) when you’re sitting creates the foundation for the rest of your posture. If it’s slumped backwards the rest of your spine has to slouch forward to compensate. For details on how to fix that watch this video:
2. Turn your palms up.
This is an easy but powerful tip…the yogis knew what they were doing. Stop every hour and simply turn your palms up on your lap for 3 breaths. Or maybe when you’re reading and not typing you can rest in this position. You’ll notice your chest open as your shoulders relax.
3.Focus on your breath.
When your palms are face up pIcture your breath coming in and out of the centre of your chest (your heart centre) or your belly. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, try each and see which feels the best to you.
4. Open your chest and shoulders.
We’re all stuck at our computers by no fault of our own, and it’s messing with us and creating tension in the front of our shoulders and chest. Try this stretch or a Ten Minute Cushion at the end of the day to reset your posture and open your chest. Your heart chakra will thank you. sand you’ll be amazed how much better you feel.
5.Don’t work on the couch or bed.
Trust me, I’ve tried every which way to make this happen…you’ll end up in a harmful position fairly quickly. Sore shoulders, an achy lower back and neck tension will result. If I’m too late (because you’re reading this from that position), use the Ten Minute cushion to reset yourself.
And last but definitely not least…
6.Move, move, move.
This advice isn’t new, but it’s crucial. Change positions, stretch, walk, go to the bathroom…whatever gets more movement in your day will make an enormous difference to your posture, and your mood. Even 5 minutes whenever possible will make a big difference.
We’ve included some very short routines below to try. See how much better you can feel in just 3 minutes!
Here are some simple desk stretches to try:
If you’re having trouble sitting up straight or find you just can’t hold proper posture for very long please contact us. You likely need an adjustment to allow you to open up, breathe deeply and feel amazing all day.