This is How Our Postures Affect Our Brain
Ever noticed how the portraits of kings and emperors of yore often look similar? That is because the posture is overwhelmingly the same – erect backs and puffed-up chests, exuding power and confidence.
Humans have been establishing knowledge systems even before the advent of modern science, and they have always known that our postures tell a lot about who we are as a person. That’s because the way we walk, sit, stand, and generally move about directly affects our brain and changes its functions. Modern science offers proof of what our ancestors had figured out from observation.
The mind+body complex
We are accustomed to thinking of mind and body as two different entities. In truth, they are not separate at all. What we think of as mind resides within our body; it involves the brain and several other organs as well. On the other hand, what we think of as ‘body’ is in fact controlled largely by the brain.
Hence, whatever we do with the ‘body’ has a direct impact on the ‘mind, and vice versa. That includes the way we conduct our everyday movements.
The links between posture and brain health
Rational thinking and decision making
Looking back at our royal portraits, the postures they emulate on canvas are of confidence. They need to be shown as decisive and powerful leaders, and hence they are painted in such a posture.
When we assume a ‘confidence’ or ‘power’ posture, we are sending a subconscious message to our brain to act accordingly. Several studies in the last two decades have found that even when you are not feeling certain about something, assuming a confident posture can wire your brain into getting in the ‘confident zone’. This helps us organize our thoughts with a lot more command and make better and more confident choices.
Willpower and motivation
A 2010 survey at UC Berkeley found that good posture is directly linked to the release of certain brain chemicals like adrenaline and testosterone, and lowering of the stress hormone cortisol. This means, even if it is a stressful situation, assuming a power posture helps your brain to power through it. You feel energized, self-assured, and far better motivated to take on challenges.
Mood and mental health
Postures impact our mood and mental health in several ways.
- Mental illnesses like Depression, Affective Disorders, and Attention problems are all linked to bad, slumped down postures. Correcting a patient’s posture is something that most therapists recommend as one of the first strategies to cope with these illnesses.
- Good posture makes us look good, and self-perception has a huge impact on our mood. We are wired to feel good when we look good, and we certainly do look like our better selves when we are holding our heads high and shoulders straight. Similarly, good posture makes us look good in the eyes of others, and compliments or admiring behavior from our peers are always a great mood-booster.
- Bad posture often results in various kinds of pain. Back pain, shoulder pain, aching arms, and feet – all of these maladies can be linked to slumped and incorrect posture. Now, when you are in constant pain that naturally starts to affect your mood. Physical pain leads to mental stress and long-term pain can significantly contribute to mood disorders and Depression.
Our postures, in many ways, define who we are as a person. Optimizing them and our movements, in turn, can help us transform ourselves for the better. Want to know how best to optimize your postures for brainpower? Keep watching this space!