Straightening your back and squaring your shoulders can improve your mood and increase your self-esteem.
Depression is a serious neuropsychiatric disease, but at the first sign of it, you don’t need to immediately rush to antidepressants – first you just need to straighten up and straighten your shoulders: a straight back, according to psychologists from the University of Auckland, alleviates depressive symptoms.
While sitting at your workplace, try to keep your back straight – this may improve your mood. (Photo: ginasanders / Depositphotos.) View full size ‹ ›
To participate in the experiment, the researchers invited several dozen volunteers who, according to the questionnaire, were in a depressed state of mind – their psychological state could be regarded as mild or moderate depression, when from a purely medical point of view it had not yet turned into a real disease. Their mood was revealed by slumped shoulders and hunched backs, but some of them were asked to straighten up and were also given athletic bandages to help them keep their backs straight.
Others were not given any special advice about posture, and bandages were attached randomly. (Participants in the experiment were told that the purpose of the work was to find out whether such bandages had any effect on mental abilities.)
In an article in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, the authors of the work write that those who sat with a straight back had an improved mood: according to psychological tests, they no longer felt tired and had more energy and overall mental strength. Those who maintained a depressed posture had a noticeably worse mood.
Then both were subjected to a stress test where they had to give a speech in front of an audience: they were given only three minutes to prepare for the speech, in addition, after the speech they had to immediately solve a complex mathematical problem. As a result, the psychological state of those who walked with a straight back and those who continued to hunch turned out to be the same – probably because the situation was too stressful, and no straight back could help.
However, those who walked upright produced more words in their speech and used the pronoun “I” less often. It is known that during depression a person speaks with longer pauses and uses “I” more often, so we can say that shorter pauses and less frequent use of “I” indicated a weakening of depressive symptoms (although, again, public speaking still knocked everyone out of ruts).
But how does mood depend on posture? We have already said that a hunched back and drooping shoulders indicate a depressed state of mind, but could it be that by straightening our back with an effort of will, we thereby expel depression from the brain? What kind of psychophysiology is at work here remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that similar studies were conducted with those who were simply in a bad mood, without emerging depression, and the results were the same – a straight back improved mood and self-esteem.
Here it is also worth recalling the well-known psychological theory, according to which our internal state is influenced by facial expression. In other words, not only does a feeling of joy cause a smile, but a smile can also arouse joy. Perhaps in the case of a straight back and depression, something similar happens, but as for facial expressions, then, apparently, everything is not so simple: they tried to re-test the theory with new experiments, and now someone still claims that with the help Smiling can really relieve stress, but some say that smiling has no effect on our emotions – at least not always.
Based on materials from LiveScience.