Posture can communicate so much about how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Good posture can help you be more confident, improve your mindset and can positively affect your emotions.
A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind – Morihei Ueshiba
Last week I read The Sutton Trust’s Life Lessons: Improving Essential Life Skills for Young People report.
My key key takeaway is the important role life skills play in an adult’s ability to flourish.
Of the essential life skills that are discussed in the report, it is confidence that is identified by teachers as being most important life skill to develop in our young.
That got me thinking about the important role our posture has on our confidence, mindset and emotions, and critically, that so many people are not aware of this.
Let’s look at the research more carefully.
Good posture makes us tougher
One study found that by simply adopting a more dominant, open and expansive posture, people not only felt in control but were able to tolerate more physical pain and emotional distress too.
Posture and emotions are intertwined
Expansive and open postures are associated with happiness, success, confidence and optimism. And of course, it goes the other way too. Closed postures are associated with depression and pessimism. You may have heard of Amy Cuddy and power posing. Although one of the claims of her research has been hotly contested, the claim that when people adopted a power pose reported stronger feelings of power than they did before is widely regarded as plausible.
Good posture and mobility have a positive effect on cognitive function
This one’s my favourite, especially since I have a memory like a sieve. One study found that people with good posture found it easier to remember things.
Good posture matters more than hierarchical power
Finally, research has shown that posture has been shown to matter more than hierarchy in making a person think and act in a more powerful way.
So what next?
The benefits of good posture are loud and clear. It makes us tougher, more confident, has been shown to increase cognitive function, helps us be more positive and can be more important than hierarchical power.
How can an individual or an educator use the research to improve their posture or the posture of those they teach?
Take a Break. Whether you’re sitting in front of a computer, facilitating a staff meeting or teaching, have stretch breaks every half an hour. Yep, not every hour, every half an hour. Take stock of your mind or body, wiggle it around, stand up or do something different for a short space of time. For the educators out there do energising brain breaks throughout your class. Free apps like ‘Stand Up! The Work Break Timer’ can help you remember. You can set the timer so that it reminds you to break every 15 , 20 or 30 minutes.
Strike a Pose. Start power posing and get others to do the same. Of course, you’ll need to explain to people you are suggesting do it why. True fact: I power posed before an interview and it helped me focus, gather my thoughts and feel confident. Guess what? I nailed the interview and got the job.
Start Looking Up. Start hanging photos or posters slightly higher on walls, or on your desk so that you have to look up. Even adjusting your rear-view mirror slightly higher so that you have to sit taller whilst driving. Straighten up Canada and the Perfect Posture Workout are great free apps that everyone should download top help them improve their posture.
Connect with Tara on Twitter:@TaraWalshNinja
*Please note that more than one journal paper was consulted in the creation of this post. If you’d like a full citations list, please contact the author.