Your Posture Has More Impact On Your Mental Health Than You Think

Many of us have sat through a lecture or presentation on power poses. These manners of standing are said to increase confidence, impact the way that we carry ourselves and improve our outlooks. As the brain-body connection continues to permeate the wellness industry, more studies show the correlation between poor posture and a poor state of mind. So, if you spend a lot of time sitting with your shoulders curved inwards — like looking at a computer — it's important to take note of the side effects as well as how to counteract them. Health cites studies finding poor posture as an exacerbating factor in various states of anxiety and depression.

In addition to creating compression in the front side of your body, your posture can cause some serious pain. Steven D'Ambroso, a physical therapist with Professional Physical Therapy in New York tells the outlet, "Over time, sustained slumped-forward posture creates unnecessary stress and strains your spine. That can make you feel heavy and achy, which leads to being tired and irritable."

Indeed, studies have shown that a slumped posture increases people's feelings of anxiety or depression, while a straightened spine helped them feel more alert. Furthermore, the shoulders back position lowered the levels of anxiety as well. Healthline explains that this phenomenon is also responsible for an increase in energy. With less compression, your muscles are better able to perform vital functions without the extra work.

Your posture impacts your breathing

In addition to compressing various vertebrae, slouching also decreases the space that your lungs can take up inside your chest. Kara Griffith, exercise physiologist at Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center, explains it succinctly to Healthline, "If you're slouching, you're compressing your lungs. If you're sitting and standing taller, your lungs have more space to expand."

Since lowered lung capacity is linked to higher rates of anxiety, a widened chest space can impact your mental state in more ways than one, the National Library of Medicine explains. By bringing more oxygen into your system, it can better regulate itself, its processes, and your brain's functioning. Healthline also reports that better posture also makes way for improved circulation to your internal organs, enhancing digestion — a system that heavily impacts your state of mind. "If you're compressing vital organs, your circulation is poor, and those organs aren't going to work as well," Griffith adds.

To best combat these issues, Health recommends standing up from your desk every 45 minutes and taking a few steps to get your blood moving. You can also pull your shoulder blades back to stretch your front side muscles to get a quick recalibration that can make all the difference. 

Decompress your spine, open your lungs and breathe easier — all from sitting up a little straigher.