This is not a step that I used in my initial anxiety recovery process.
However, I have been reading a lot on this topic in the last few months and I have decided that it deserves a place in my Anxiety Recovery Steps List.
According to experts, a large portion of our communication is non-verbal. The way that we carry ourselves speaks volumes to other people. Happy, mad, sad, frightened – we can covey these emotions without saying a word. And you may be surprised to know that it’s not just to other people that our body language speaks. It speaks to us as well.
In a previous step I spoke about the importance of keeping your muscles relaxed and loose throughout the day because your brain interprets tense muscles as a sign that you are in danger. Now I want to talk you about another way your body language sends messages to your brain, and that is with your posture.
Good posture is important to help keep your body moving and functioning the way that it was designed to do. It is vital to the health of your back and spine. It is also vital for a confident, strong, positive attitude.
My posture has never been great. There is a certain way of carrying ourselves in my family that is a bit sway backed yet stiff, with our hips forward and our shoulders hunched up and forward and necks down and forward.
We sound super attractive, don’t we?
It’s really not quite as Neanderthal as it sounds on paper. In fact, I’d say we look like pretty normal people when we are out and about and nobody would be able to pick out our bad posture in a crowd. But it’s definitely a “thing” that has affected all of us and contributed to some back, neck, and jaw problems for us over the years.
In addition to the physical issues that my poor posture has created, I also think that over my lifetime, it has added to my anxiety issues as well.
It’s difficult to know which came first – the chicken or the egg. Did my bad posture contribute to my anxiety disorder forming, or did my anxiety disorder contribute to my bad posture? I suspect it’s a bit of both.
Since I started doing this research into posture, I have been recording myself having “pretend conversations” with people in my normal stance. I watch them in playbacks and I can’t believe how bad my posture is and how “forward and down” my head and neck are. It’s no wonder I have TMJ and back issues.
And it’s no wonder I feel a bit shy and awkward and unsure of myself around people. My posture screams lack of confidence and self-doubt. I know I am a confident, strong person now, but for some reason, when I am around people I still feel very nervous and shy. That has always confused me a bit, and I have to wonder if it is because that is what my posture is saying. Maybe my brain can’t help my mind pump out confidence and strength, when my body is pumping out weak and meek.
But one thing I know for sure is that when I make a conscious effort to correct my posture by standing up straight, keeping my shoulders back and chin level to the ground – I feel like a completely different person. I feel confident and strong and even a little bit powerful. Keeping my muscles relaxed and my body stance open instead of closed off enhances these feelings all the more!
Even when I am just around the house with my kids….when I make an effort to keep my posture strong, I feel better. I feel happier. I feel “together”. I notice such a huge difference that I know this is something I need to continue with all of the time.
The problem is that this healthy posture feels so un-natural to me.
I feel stiff and like a robot and a bit “snobby” , as if my nose is up in the air and it makes my back hurt even more. I never last more than an hour before I succumb to my laziness and go back to Neanderthal.
I know its normal to feel that awkwardness and soreness and they say that it will pass with time, and your new healthy posture will become second nature to you – so I am going to try not to dwell on how it feels and give myself a chance to get used to it. I really want to stick with these posture changes long-term, because I want to find out what the long-term benefits of this could be. I gotta say thought, that as I am sitting here right now typing with my “good posture”, my neck and shoulder blades are killing me and I am dying to collapse my back like Gollum and feel like myself again.
Healthy posture hurts! (At least in the beginning it does.)
But I am going to work on this readers. I am going to make this a goal of mine and maybe start out in 5 minute increments every day, then gradually work my way up to longer and longer periods of good posture.
Just based upon the immediate effects that I feel in the short time I am able to maintain healthy posture, I feel very strongly that if I can make this an all day, every day thing – my new default setting – this will benefit my body and that it could have an AMAZING change on my mental attitude and outlook. I really believe my emotional and mental health will benefit by the positive messages of strength and confidence that good posture can send to my brain .
Every one of my anxiety recovery steps will take you one rung higher on the ladder of emotional health and resiliency and I am thinking that good posture might be worth TWO rungs. I am certainly going to try to find out if this is the case, and I highly recommend you look into this for yourself. Check out the graphic below to check your posture and get some helpful tips and then put yourself on a Posture Challenge. I truly believe it will make a positive difference in your life!
Find More at the Greatist Fitness Blog
I am really excited about getting started on this step and I will make some edits to this post as the weeks progress to let you know how things are going! I am going to go massage my poor aching neck now!
For more information about posture including some remedies to common posture mistakes, stop by this article from National Health Service in England.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
All Images Other Than InfoGraphic From Pixabay