Hunching over might seem easier— it’s hard to stay upright all day!— but besides looking sloppy, research suggests bad posture might also affect self-confidence
Straight Talk — Why It Matters
Many of us spend hours every day sitting, and slouching over a desk can put extra pressure on the spine while contributing to chronic pain and weakening chest muscles. But beyond the physical harms of slouching, studies suggest bad posture can actually affect how people view themselves, and those with upright posture are more easily able to recall positive thoughts and tend to have a stronger self-image— not to mention stronger spines
One study had some subjects sit up and straight and push their chest forward, while others were told to slouch and look down at their knees. When asked to rate themselves as future professionals, those sitting upright were significantly more likely to express a positive opinion of their prospects (likely no small feat in this economy). Other research has linked sitting or standing with expansive posture (wide open and tall) with personal feelings of power, confidence in decision making, and control
Get Up, Stand Up… Tall — The Answer/Debate
But while some studies suggest correlation between posture and a higher confidence level, popping out the chest won’t necessarily bring out the best in everyone. And while it’s been suggested that better posture’s effects might come from reducing stress hormones, recent research indicates this is anything but a guarantee
While having good posture is no cure-all for self-esteem issues, it’s certainly not a bad place to start. Performing some simple stretches and exercises every day can help promote better posture while sitting or standing. Losing the chair during the workday might also help alleviate some slouching-induced symptoms (including that poor self-image).
Illustration by Elaine Liu