How to Slay Stress & Feel More Confident
You know that age old riddle, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” My topic today isn’t that riddle in particular (haha) but it is a similar concept. Ready? Here it is:
Do you slouch because you’re stressed … or are you stressed because you’re slouching?
I ask for a number of different reasons. First, because most of us aren’t very aware of our posture. We often have no idea if we are slouching or sitting up tall … unless we get aches and pains. Then we notice and adjust. But often we slip into a familiar position because of how we are feeling, mentally. It’s funny how emotions like stress (or feeling un-worthy) can manifest physically in our bodies.
In fact, scientists are uncovering links between your mood and your posture, and it turns out the two are tied together in powerful ways. For most of us, that stress-posture question probably works in both directions. But there’s a surprising amount of research that shows that how you stand or sit has a pretty big impact on your stress level, self-confidence, and your mood!
Not only does your posture impact how others see you (happy and confident vs. depressed and guarded), it can play a role in how YOU see the world! For example, a study published in the journal Health Psychology found that sitting upright (vs. slumped) might help you build resilience to stress – i.e., stress is more apt to roll off you than get into your head.
So what if you already are feeling a little down in the dumps?
No one is suggesting that improving your posture will cure clinical depression, but for people with symptoms of mild to moderate depression, researchers say study participants who sat up straight felt less anxiety and their mood improved.
Another chicken-egg question: do weak core muscles cause bad posture, or does bad posture cause weak core muscles? The two go hand-in-hand!
One major way to help improve your posture is to strengthen your muscles so standing/sitting tall becomes second nature. This can mean stretching your chest/shoulder/hip muscles, strengthening your back, and working your core muscles from the inside out.
I’ve outlined a complete program in my free Restore Your Core guide! If you haven’t gotten it yet, you can download it here.
Next time you’re in a stressful situation, try “faking it” by sitting or standing tall, with your shoulders back and chest open. It certainly can’t hurt, and you might find yourself in a better mood and even feel less self-conscious! Plus, your self-confidence will go up, which can help you battle that stress like a champ!
For me, I think back to my childhood and the mom of one of my best friends. She was perhaps one of the most confident women I had ever seen. She knew how to handle every situation with grace and skill and her #1 thing that she drilled into my friend and I was to sit up straight and act like the strong girls we were. The more we fllowed her advice, the stronger and more confidence we felt. It’s one of the reasons why when I need a boost of confidence, I immediately sit up tall, shift my shoulders back and feel like a warrior.
Obviously, if you’re feeling long-standing symptoms of depression, stress, or anxiety you should talk to your doctor about it. But if you’re battling everyday stress, it can help to stand up tall and slay it!