Mar 22, 2023 - Health

Axios Finish Line: The link between posture and confidence

Illustration of the "Thinker" statue with an angry spiral over his head.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

How we carry ourselves doesn't just affect our bodies — it also touches our brains.

Why it matters: Slumped posture isn't just an aesthetic concern. It has wide-ranging effects on our well-being — both physical and mental.

"Bad" posture can look different for different people. Broadly, it refers to when your ears are out of alignment with the center of your body, Healthline notes.

  • Consider "tech neck" — the new name for when our heads are leaning forward, our necks are bent and our shoulders are slumped, often as a result of hunching over a phone or computer.

The stakes:

  • The physical effects of poor posture go beyond pain in your neck, back and shoulders. It can even lead to heartburn and slowed digestion, per Harvard Medical School.
  • The mental effects include a knock to your self-confidence.

Case in point: Ohio State researchers compared subjects who sat up straight to subjects who slumped and found that good posture was linked to higher confidence.

  • "What you're doing with your body affects how you react to your own thoughts," says Richard Petty, an Ohio State professor and one of the study's co-authors.
  • Sitting up straight boosted study participants' assuredness in their ideas.

In another study, San Francisco State University researchers tested how posture affected students' feelings about math tests.

  • The students who were good at math experienced no difference taking the test slouching or sitting up straight.
  • Students who were anxious about math found the test more manageable when practicing good posture.

The bottom line: Just taking a second to breathe and adjust your posture before a tough conversation with a friend or a big presentation at work could help you navigate important moments with more confidence.

This article originally appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.

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