To what extent does your posture affect your mood, and vice versa? Is one more powerful than the other?
The truth is that they have an ongoing mutual impact on each other, so trying to identify which is more important is a bit of a chicken and egg situation.
It’s easy to overlook how small changes in posture can affect your mood. How do you sit or stand when you’re feeling confident and happy? If you’re not sure, think about someone you know who seems confident and happy most of the time. How do they sit or stand?
What about when you or someone else is feeling low or unhappy?
Typically, we sit or stand more upright and with our heads up when we feel more confident and happy. We’re more likely to be smiling and generally be more alert and engaged with what’s going on around us.
We tend to sit or stand in a more slumped pose with heads down when we’re not feeling so buoyant. We’re less likely to be smiling and may be disengaged from what’s going on.
Most of this goes on at a subconscious level but it’s possible to trick your mind by changing your posture.
When you’re feeling a bit low or unhappy, what might it be like to consciously adopt the opposite posture, so that you stand or sit more upright, put your head up and smile? However false the smile might feel (and if you’re really struggling to form a smile, try holding a pen or pencil lengthways in your mouth) it’s highly likely that it will raise your mood at least just a tiny bit. Tipping your head slightly upwards will help even more.
However small a difference that might seem to make, it may be just enough to allow you to take some action to help you come out of your low mood. The aim here is to raise your level of serotonin, the feel good hormone. Your body and brain don’t mind how the serotonin is produced, so if simply adjusting your posture does the trick, why not try it?
Experiment and play around with it. Try slumping, standing poorly and looking downwards to see how that has the opposite effect. There is a reason that your teachers at school used to ask you to sit upright to concentrate.
Whilst it might seem that your mind is in charge, because when you’re feeling low your posture is more likely to reflect that, by changing your body posture you can start to change your mood.
It’s not just mood that can be changed. You can use the same technique to increase your confidence. Stand strongly, with feet firmly placed on the ground, ideally hip-width apart, and compare how much more confident that feels than having your ankles crossed, or standing with more weight on one leg than the other. Again, smiling helps here too.
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