Stand straight – it’s good for you!
The way you hold yourself through the day matters, says Beth Rush, and here’s why…
Do you sit with a decided slouch? When you walk down the street, do you avert your eyes from strangers’ gazes as if you were studying the sidewalk patterns? Your posture throughout the day says a lot about you.
Over time, poor posture can change your shape. It can also lead to chronic pain and ailments. When you catch a glimpse of your profile in a passing shopfront, do you ever wonder what your body type reveals about your health?
Fortunately, some cheats can help improve your stance. And even better, you can master a few simple tips which will both add to your health and project a more confident image of yourself.
How you hold yourself throughout the day matters, and here’s why …
The connection between posture and health
Slouching makes you look tired, even grumpy. Worse, it can lead to significant health risks, including the following conditions:
- Back pain: Poor posture puts your body in an unnatural alignment. Over time, it can lead to an exaggerated curvature called kyphosis.
- Neck pain and headaches: Much ado has been made of ‘tech neck’, which results from slouching over devices. However, that isn’t the only risk. Poor posture puts pressure on the muscles, veins and nerves of your neck and contributes to eye strain, leading to headaches and migraines.
- Circulation problems: Poor posture puts pressure on blood vessels, increasing the risk of varicose veins.
- Breathing problems: Hunching over puts pressure on your lungs, squeezing them like balloons in the middle, making it harder for air to enter.
- Digestive trouble: A slouched posture puts pressure on your stomach, making it easier for acid to flow back into the esophagus and leading to reflux.
All these problems contribute to fatigue.
Therefore, poor posture makes you look tired and increases your risk of feeling that way.
Over time, you can experience physiological changes associated with poor posture – none of them good. Your muscles, ligaments and tendons change over time, becoming shorter and tighter, making it harder for you to stand up straight. You can develop bone spurs, worsen existing arthritis symptoms, and put undue strain on your hips and knees, creating further trouble.
What your body type reveals about your health
When people see you, do they think you’re confident and healthy or unwell and defeated? Your posture has a lot to do with what your body type reveals about your health.
For example, examine people standing in line the next time you go to the grocery store. How much can you guess their aches and pains from how they hold themselves? You don’t need a medical qualification – you can probably figure out who has back or knee pain and feels down or depressed, all from the way they stand!
How people perceive you matters
Why does it matter how other people perceive you? Shouldn’t you sit and stand in whichever way feels natural to you, regardless of the risks? While you can certainly take that stance, doing so could have ripple effects through your closest relationships – and your career.
How people perceive you matters. If a prospective employer judges you as low energy, they’re less likely to offer you the job.
If they do, they might not extend as high a salary as they would have if you had appeared confident and energetic in your interview.
Likewise, your posture and how people view you matters to clients. Prospects might hesitate to close the deal with someone who seems less than confident in their ability to deliver.
Sure, health discrimination is unfair – but very real. Prospective employers might fear you’ll call in sick too often, and clients cast aspersions on your abilities if you look unwell.
Five tips to manage your energy more effectively
You need tips to manage your energy more effectively so as to improve your posture. It’s nearly impossible to stay mindful enough to correct your alignment when you feel exhausted. Addressing the problem holistically makes it easier to fix.
1. Find your prime time
Everyone’s circadian rhythms are different. Some people do well in the morning – the stereotypical early birds. Others don’t come fully alive until after noon.
Find your prime time and schedule your day accordingly, if possible. You can pencil in the most vital tasks – like meeting prospective clients – when your energy runs high and it’s easier to stand up straight and project an air of health and confidence.
2. Pause and breathe
It’s a sad truth, but you can’t always control what the day will bring or how other people will treat you. However, you can always manage your energy.
- Set a three-minute timer.
- Take four or five slow, deep breaths as you stand or sit up tall, letting your lungs fully expand.
- Ask yourself what kind of energy you want to project.
- Smile and affirm to yourself that you can do it.
3. Commit to daily self-care
Self-care isn’t selfish because you can’t pour from an empty pitcher. The World Health Organization defines it as activities that promote positive well-being and help you manage existing conditions.
If your posture needs work, you might spend a few minutes each day on exercises designed to strengthen your alignment and help you stand up straighter. Talk to a personal trainer if possible – many gyms include a session or two as part of your membership, so take advantage if you haven’t already.
4. Practise yoga
What if you don’t have a gym membership? Yoga is one of the most ancient forms of exercise and is terrific for helping you improve your posture. Try some of these poses designed for easing back pain -they’ll help you achieve better alignment. Are you keen to join a class but too shy or short on cash to join? YouTube is a glorious resource of videos, all for free.
5. Feed the machine
You also need the right nutrients to keep your skeleton healthy. Feed yourself with more nourishing foods which nurture your bone health to prevent the deterioration that can occur with ageing. Talk to your doctor if you have rheumatoid arthritis – certain medications can slow the progression.
Finally, please don’t overlook posture aids. You can find supportive undergarments that pull your shoulders back and keep your back straight. Using them to train your body is fine until standing and sitting up straight become second nature.
Try the above tips to manage your energy more effectively. You’ll stand up straighter and make a better impression on everyone you meet.