Can Your Posture Change Your Brain?

neon sign

How do you explain how some of us will reach the age of 75 and hit the ski slopes while others of us get moved into a nursing home to live out our golden years, when we all have the same access to food and exercise and health care services?

Ellen Langer (Harvard Psychologist) did a study on hotel maids. She found the maids reported they did no regular exercise (even though they cleaned 15 rooms a day, scrubbed toilets, pushed vacuums, pulled sheets and regularly walked several flights of stairs). Langer took several measures for fitness and discovered these women scored similar results to those with sedentary lifestyles.

But when Langer explained to the hotel maids all the daily exercise they were ACTUALLY getting, those same women decreased their weight and body mass index and lowered their BP by 10%. The only thing that changed was their mindset.

If you believe you are healthy your body behaves as a healthy body should.

So, if its possible that your thinking changes the health of your body as Langer suggests, then could it be possible for your body to change what you think? Well apparently it is.

Power posing

Most people believe that our mind can affect our physical state, but can the same be said for the opposite? Can you alter your mindset (or brain) by simply changing your physiology? As a matter of fact, you can. Scientific research, like Amy Cuddy’s, has proven that postural expansiveness or power posing leads to a physical and emotional state of power. Testosterone levels actually increased following periods of power posing and testosterone levels have been shown to influence our success in life. Wow!

Let’s use smiling. Most of us probably smile when we have happy thoughts. But could this work the other way around? If you choose to perform the physical action of smiling, you almost strangely feel immediately happier. Try it right now and make the muscles of your face curl up into a great big smile. You feel sort of happy (and silly) don’t you? This is no accident. Your physiology has a direct impact on your emotional state. Your body physiology (in this example, a smile) just changed the way that you feel.

So what if your body physiology is bad posture? What is that doing to your daily thoughts?

5 ways to change your brain

  • Let the last thing you see in the mirror each morning be a smile (Tip borrowed from Alexa Fischer)
  • Practice breaking negative thought patterns with a silly movement (For example: ‘I look really fat’ could be interrupted by changing your body posture and doing a silly wiggle in front of the mirror).
  • Take up more space (avoid crossing your legs at the ankle and sit expansively – no need to spread your legs to China, but shoulder width apart is good).
  • Give at least one really good compliment a day and notice the change in posture of those you compliment. Remember thoughts alter posture and altered posture can alter thoughts.
  • Sit long and tall (or better yet, stand and smile) before making difficult phone calls.

What brain-changing habits do you use?

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