Maybe you heard it from your parents when you were slouching as a kid. Or perhaps you were in the military when someone who seriously outranked you yelled it in your ear: Shoulders back! Head up! Eyes forward!

Whenever or wherever they gave you these instructions, it meant the same thing—stand up straight and look alert. And when you followed those orders, you probably discovered that your mood changed as your brain suddenly became energized.

Researchers have been studying the effects of posture for years and have shown it can have an immediate impact on your mood and the way your brain works. Here are two of those studies:

A direct relationship between posture and mood

In 2012, Dr. Erik Peper conducted a variety of experiments at San Francisco State University to determine how body posture affected his subjects’ energy levels and their ability to generate positive and negative thoughts.

In one experiment, his test subjects walked down a hall either skipping and swinging their arms or slouching. Almost every one of the “skippers” reported feeling more energetic, positive, and happier while those who had slumped said they felt sad, lonely or isolated.

In another study at Columbia University, researchers discovered that posture could affect attitude and memory. The student subjects did some power poses—think about a bodybuilder during a competition with shoulders back and open, chin up, and chest out – just before giving a speech. Their powerful poses had a positive effect on their performances.

How slouching can affect mood

In another study—this one published in Health Psychology – researchers gave either a slumped or straight posture to a group of people. They then measured their subjects’ blood pressure and heart rates as they completed tasks designed to evaluate their mood, self-esteem and stress levels.

Those who slumped reported they felt more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, passive, dull, sleepy and sluggish. The good-posture participants had feelings of higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions. Those with good posture even had stronger pulse responses than their slouching cohorts.

What is good posture?

Correct posture means there’s a proper alignment of the spine whether you are standing, sitting, sleeping or moving. Your shoulders are relaxed, while your back and knees are in line with your hips. Your eyes should look forward, and your head doesn’t tilt up or down. If you’re in a chair, you should be upright with your feet flat on the floor. Crossing your legs or forcing your spine too straight is not an example of good posture.

You can change your posture

If you have poor posture, don’t despair. There are ways to improve your posture and your mood. Chiropractors are trained to help realign the spine and improve posture. Regular exercise, including yoga, will also help. Simple yoga poses serve as a reminder to keep your shoulders back, and eventually, you will do that naturally.

Change your posture and your job.

We can help you with the job. Contact Pro Resources for your next light industrial or technical/professional position. We’ve been getting job seekers into better positions for over 30 years, so let us use our expertise to help you find your next job.