Starting in 6th grade — about the time when I became painfully self-conscious, and really didn’t want my mother’s advice — my mom started to nag me incessantly about sitting and standing up straight. She got my pediatrician to talk to me about it, and she even created a code word for us that meant, “for god’s sake, improve your posture!” so she could remind me in public, theoretically to avoid embarrassment.
Oh, how I wish I’d listened to my mother. Turns out I probably would have been happier and more confident in middle school if I’d tried harder to sit up straight. Research shows that in adults, a straight spine increases confidence, while “a slumped posture leads to more helpless behaviors,” writes Emma Seppala from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford. Hunching or slouching makes research subjects feel more stressed, and makes them more likely to give up in the face of challenge.
Take Action: Set an alarm or a timer that will remind you to stand or sit up straight once an hour. BONUS benefit: Research subjects who make an effort to improve their posture ALSO tend to improve other areas of their lives — for example, they tend to watch less TV and eat less junk food!