This is a guest post by Sarah Williams.
People today are in constant pursuit of ways to lift their moods. The body-mind connection is so strong that correcting a perceived physical flaw can cause an immediate boost in your mood. From Botox injections to tummy tucks, we are bombarded by an abundance of ways we can look and feel better about ourselves.
Often overlooked, however, is a much less invasive way to improve our bodies and thus lift our moods: working on our posture. Numerous studies and articles have surfaced over the years suggesting and often proving that our posture has an enormous effect on how we feel. The brain and body have such a strong relationship that just a little tweak to our posture can boost our mood and improve our feelings. Below are five simple steps you can use today to make an immediate improvement on your posture.
1. Sit in an upright position.
New research reveals that simply walking with a slouched posture or sitting slumped over can actually lead to a feeling of depression and lethargy. One simple cure to boost your mood is to simply sit up straight. Carpal tunnel, back, and neck pain are all side effects of poor posture while sitting.
Many structural problems that contribute to back and hip pain, are also linked to slumping while you’re seated. If you feel yourself start to slouch, immediately push your shoulders back, contract your core, and resume an upright position. You’re not only doing your physical self a favor by doing so, but also boosting your mood and energizing your mind in the process.
2. Uncross your legs.
If you are not sitting with your back straight and both feet on the ground, you are not sitting correctly. Propping your feet up on something is fine, but crossing your legs is the big “no no” of sitting with good posture. Having your legs crossed while seated can not only lead to bad posture, but can negatively affect your joints, especially the knees and hips, and lower back.
Inflamed joints are not only painful, but can lead to an increase in poor posture when standing and walking. Need another reason not to cross your legs? Spider veins are more common in women because of their tendency to sit with legs crossed. If you find yourself needing to shift from an upright seated position, it may be a good time to take a break from sitting altogether.
3. Use a lumbar support pillow
Lumbar support pillows are as crucial to a desk job as a secretary is to a CEO. These handy creations are wonderful because they do some of the work for you by supporting your spine. Having one of these tucked behind your back is a surefire way to perk up your posture while sitting. For less than 20 dollars you can purchase a good lumbar pillow support that will help keep you upright without your having to even think about it. Be sure to move closer to your desk and sit upright with the pillow placed in the hollow of your lumbar region.
4. Take a break from sitting.
Human beings were not meant to be sedentary. Today, however, many jobs and lifestyles encourage and even demand people to sit for most of the day. Add that to the amount of time we spend on our backs sleeping and you’ll find that we are not nearly as active as we need to be. Excessive sitting can contribute to poor posture so it is important to get out of your chair and move around as much as possible. Some health professionals recommend setting an alarm to go off every hour and taking a walk break when it does.
Walk to the bathroom or break room, climb a flight of stairs, or go outside for a quick lap around the parking lot or up and down the driveway. Once you return to your seat you’ll be more inclined to resume a better sitting position and maintain better posture for a longer period of time.
Some company owners are catching on and equipping the workplace with standing desk stations to help facilitate a healthier environment for employees who are concerned about sitting for long periods of time. Think your boss will be on board? It can’t hurt to ask.
[Stephen: Reviews.com has done a great job of reviewing stand up desks. This is not a sponsored mention—I used their review to buy the Jarvis Fully Stand Up Desk and am grateful for their thorough guide because I love the desk!]
There are many exercises that are directly related to helping ensure better posture. From shoulder rolls to holding chair pose for a few minutes at a time, most posture improving exercises are simple enough to do right at work or home. Taking fifteen minutes out of your schedule each day to perform a course of short exercises will help move your body into alignment and thus significantly improve your posture.
Some exercises, such as the chin glide, are so simple that you can complete them while typing an email or sitting at a red light. Intense workouts, such as running or swimming, can also improve posture due to the technique required for performing the exercises. Want to get stronger and more fluid while working on posture? Stop in for a yoga or pilates class at your local gym.
Good posture is essential for a healthy body and mind. It is so easy today to lounge in a big chair for hours while watching television or slump over a desk in front of a computer screen, but in order to increase physical alignment and mental mood, correcting posture is essential. By incorporating the five simple steps listed above you can easily keep a careful eye on your posture and prevent it from bringing you down.
Sarah Williams is a Berlin based writer who is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She believes that true happiness comes from taking care of your body and having great relationships. She regularly encourages people to take care of their health and relationships at Wingman Magazine.
(photo by Dreaming)