5 Proven Ways Posture Can Help Improve Mental Health

We’ve always heard our parents telling us to sit up straight, to walk tall, and to have proper posture. But, why is it that good posture is so important? Aside from the physical health benefits good posture can provide us, it can also contribute to a better feeling of self, a happier outlook on life, and even help us make friends. Below you’ll see five ways that posture can improve mental well-being.

1. Improves your mood

Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling down, you tend to make yourself physically smaller, maybe by curling up in bed or crossing your arms and legs. You try to make yourself as little as possible, which serves as a coping mechanism, but is also a reflection of how you see yourself. Our feelings in this cause change our posture, but our posture also changes how we feel. Doing the opposite can improve your mood! Sitting proudly at your desk and taking up space can actually make you feel better, whether you feel good or not.[1]

Put it into action: Take 30 seconds in the morning to stand up straight in front of a mirror. Put your shoulders back and smile at yourself. Stretch and make yourself big. Not only will this help you get your day started off on the right foot, but it will also increase blood flow, which leads us to our next point…

2. Improves blood flow to the brain

Sitting or standing properly increases blood flow throughout the whole body. If you have a desk job, having proper posture can keep the blood from pooling in your legs and making you uncomfortable. Also, good blood circulation means that it is reaching the brain, making it easier for you to think and carry-out complex tasks.[2] So, don’t get frustrated if you’re not quite on your game. Stretching and fixing your posture can help you get through that mid-day lull.

Put it into action: If you feel like your brain is a little sluggish (maybe after lunch), get up and go to the bathroom. Do some over head stretches and really get your blood flowing. Again, look in the mirror and make sure your shoulders are back and that your spine is in place. When you get back to your desk, maintain that tall posture, you’ll see the difference!

3. Helps you make friends

In general, people like happy people. If you can emit a feeling of openness, happiness, and receptiveness, people are more likely to be friendly with you.[3] An open posture may be sitting up straight, facing people and not a wall, with your arms and shoulders back and in an inviting posture. You don’t want to cross your arms or legs, as it makes you seem closed off (but this may work if you just need some time to yourself!)

Put it into action: Let’s say you’re in a new place and hoping to make friends. Go to a cafe and sit at a central table. Put your headphones and phone away, and sit with your arms resting on the table. A smile is the international sign for happiness, so a smile will make you seem friendly and open. An inviting posture should express openness, so think about what an approachable person would look like and mimic that.

4. Boosts confidence

Keeping your back erect and pushing your chest out can help boost your confidence.[4] Standing tall and feeling confident can make others perceive you as being confident.[5] Even if you’re not so sure about your class presentation or job interview, you can trick yourself into being more confident than you actually feel by making yourself as big as you can, which is called Expansive Posture. Practicing some of this expansive posture can make you feel differently about yourself and even change your state of mind.[6]

Put it into action: Imagine what a starfish looks like, arms and legs spread out as wide as possible. Do that in the bathroom before your presentation and you’re sure to feel more confident!

5. Makes you more productive

We’ve all tried to write our term paper or a big report while laying down in bed or on the couch. Yes, it is a lot more comfortable, but have you noticed that the content just isn’t as good and you have a harder time focusing? That’s because our posture affects how productive we are.[7] Sitting upright at a desk makes us take the task more seriously and helps us knock out those last 3 pages faster than we could if we were hunched over or lying down.

Put it into action: Rather than slouching in an armchair or trying to get as vertical as possible, find a desk that is the proper height for you, plant your feet on the ground, and sit up straight. Your blood will flow easier and you’ll be in the right state of mind to really get work done!

About The Author

Deepti Varathan is a writer specializing in psychology and neuroscience. She is passionate about modern medicine and finding other therapeutic techniques, and how both of these affect the developing brain. Deepti works for CogniFit, a major vendor in cognitive assessments and neuroscientific brain training programs.