Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is Your Posture the Reason for Your Mood?

We have watched our favorite characters dramatically slump and walk away to illustrate disappointment.  Or we easily identify our beloved slackers like Shaggy from Scooby Doo by a signature slouch.  Body posture is often viewed as resulting from character or mood but recent study shows that it could be the other way around.  How you sit or stand changes how you feel.
1- Your stoop impacts your...
Not surprising, when you position yourself folded over for hours a day, you compress your organs and can slow down normal body functions.  The physiological change can easily impact mood- I doubt anyone has excitedly exclaimed "Yes! I'm constipated!"
2- Don't want to be viewed as Shaggy?  Then stop standing like him.
Just as actors and characters use this strong cue of nonverbal communication to show laziness, lack of motivation and incompetence- you are doing the same.  If you make the effort to stand up straight then you are viewed as more likely to make the effort to succeed when faced with challenges. 
3- People asked to slouch report increased feelings of depression afterward as reported by a San Francisco State University study.
4-Continuous slumped posture increases stress. 
"People who adopted powerful postures (open shoulders and straight spines) had a 20 percent increase in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels—but people who slouched had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol. That translates into low self-confidence and high stress...Shallow chest breathing strains the lungs, which must move faster to ensure adequate oxygen flow, and taxes the heart, which is forced to speed up to provide enough blood for oxygen transport. The result is a vicious cycle, where stress prompts shallow breathing, which in turn creates more stress." NBCnews.com

Solutions On the Fly-
1- Think about your posture.  Pretend a marionette string along your spine through the top of your head is pulling you taller and use that string to elongate yourself whenever you feel yourself begin to sag.
2- Let daily audible tones like phones, ringers, or alarms be your reminder to check in on your posture.
3- Stand whenever you can, at the office or during commercial breaks. Sitting can make it even easier to sag a wither, creating a downward spiral.  If reminders do not work, force yourself to stay engaged by sitting on a swiss ball or a modified ball chair.
4- Wear shoes that make standing comfortable.
5- Take pilates or yoga to learn more about your body alignment and to strengthen and balance the muscles that will support you.

What are some of your solutions that keep you upright and on track?

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