Did your mother ever tell you to sit up straight? Yet again, she was right. In addition to making you look more attractive, feel more confident and boosting memory, studies show that how we sit influences how we respond to stress.
Participants in a study were divided into two groups. One group sat in a slumped position while the other group sat upright. Next, all of them were exposed to a stressful situation. The results showed that those who sat up straight fared better than the slouchers. In addition to reporting a better mood, higher self-esteem and less fear, the upright participants were more likely to use positive words to describe their experience. Overall, they felt stronger and less overwhelmed. In comparison, the slouchers felt more anxiety, hostile, fearful and sluggish.
Sitting up straight was protective—it didn’t allow the stress to get to them the same way it got to the slouchers.
Related research further demonstrates the power of posture. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School, advises women MBA students to un-cross their legs and arms and to sit up straight. “Be as big as you are,” she tells them. Her research shows how sitting upright with two feet on the ground and outstretched arms influences hormones that have a positive impact on how you feel.
Bottom line: I am not a big fan of sitting down (I work at a stand-up desk, I have walking meetings and avoid chairs as much as possible) so I don’t exactly have a leg to stand on when it comes to sitting. That said, if and when you do need to sit down, sit up straight. It’s a simple strategy to reduce stress.
I wish you all the best,
Dr. Samantha Boardman