Posture and anxiety
We don’t normally give thought to our posture unless we are hurting or having stiffness somewhere in the body. Having good spinal alignment allows us to breathe better as our lung capacity increases, it prevents chest muscle tightness and our joints will move easier as they aren’t stiff. We should find with good posture we have a sturdy spine and therefore no back, neck or shoulder issues.
Research is proving that your posture impacts both your mood and brain function almost immediately. By simply nodding can increase your confidence and vice versa when we are signalling a ‘no’ answer with our head. A simple thing like smiling also has a positive effect on our mindset by changing our attitude. Posture can also affect how others think of you so beware of your body language. (See research).
Dr Erik Peper at San Francisco State University determined how body posture affected energy levels as well as a person’s ability to generate positive and negative thoughts. His delegates either skipped, swinging their arms in an upward motion or slouched as they walked down a hall. Almost all of the skipping participants reported feeling more energetic, happier and positive. Those who had slouched reported nearly the opposite emotions. They felt sad, lonely, isolated, sleeping, and “zombie-like”.
In another study at Columbia University, they discovered that posture affected their attitude and memory. The students did 'power poses' prior to giving their speeches and their powerful postures positively affected their performances. It found that power posing increases levels of testosterone and decreases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone in your brain.
Furthermore, a study carried out in New Zealand on ‘slumped’ v ‘good’ posture, has shown the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish. Good posture was associated with higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions. The participants with good posture even had stronger pulse responses than their slumped friends.
The point of this is that while we are isolated at home at the moment working, most will be using a table or something similar to sit with their laptop and complete their workload. I can probably bet that there will be a high proportion who haven’t even considered how high the desk is to where they are sitting and if they are leaning over it.
Bad posture will cause issues with muscles tightening and overcompensating to keep the spine aligned and eventually will strain and you will find you have back shoulder, neck and arm issues. You could also find yourself having sciatica too due to compression of the spinal nerves and that really isn’t favourable. Do you want to feel uncomfortable when it's simple to position yourself correctly? Your immune system and other systems will be trying to heal those muscles and decrease inflammation all the time you are slouched in the chair and you could find that you may suffer arthritis sooner.
Below I am offering some advice to help you and in turn, you can help others:
1. Standing - this seems to be one of the things I pick up on with most of my clients - they don’t stand straight and seem to be curled around themselves. People seem to have their bottom too far forward or backwards causing major strain on their spine.
My advice is always to straighten your back, move your shoulders back and push your chest outwards so you are straight. Your head should be looking forwards and at ease. A study in 2014 which was known as ‘tech neck’ caused by looking down at your phone or laptop, found that when your head is in line with your shoulders it weighs about 10 pounds. However, for every inch, you tilt forward, the amount of weight it places on your spine almost doubles. I know it may feel uncomfortable at first to do this but with practice, you will find your posture improves.
2. Sitting - sit with your arms and shoulders at a 90-degree angle when you are working on a computer and ensure your monitor is at eye level. Be aware of how you are sitting and ensure you aren’t balancing on one hip - keep your back straight.
3. Take breaks - if possible, it is always good to have a break from sitting every hour or so and move those legs. The circulation will improve. You can always do a little dance or sway from side to side to loosen up the joints and muscles. Don’t cross your legs as this could impede the blood supply and you can sadly develop a thrombosis. Move your legs while you are sitting as this can stop cramps.
4. Drink plenty of fluids - this is one way to have to go and make a brew or visit the toilet and is great for your organs to flush out the toxins and waste in your system.
5. Exercises - you can strengthen your back by doing various exercises. These exercises don’t have to be difficult, in fact, the easier the better. Lie on the floor and stretch your arms and legs out. Now lift them a few inches upwards and keep the pose for 10 seconds. Keep doing this for 5 rounds twice a day. However, please do not put yourself in any danger by doing exercises that hurt you - consult a physiotherapist for specific exercises. There are lots of exercises on youtube you can look at to help you find the ones that will suit you best.
I hope you have found this useful and now understand that to improve your mindset it is necessary to improve your posture. This is only one way to improve your anxiety and there are many techniques and tools available to assist you. There are several competent and highly trained hypnotherapists out there, most probably in your area that can help you overcome those unwanted emotions and teach you how to take back control. Helping yourself is the first step to feeling better. Good luck and I sincerely hope you feel great very soon.