Self + Care

How to Stop Slouching: Why Good Posture Is Important

How to Stop Slouching: Why Good Posture Is Important | The Bold+Balanced Life by Alex Benkast

As a writer and reader, I spend a good portion of my time hunched over my laptop, e-reader, and books. But even as a teenager I had bad posture, because  1.) I was taller than everyone else but didn’t have the confidence to own it, and 2.) despite my mom’s best efforts, I did my homework on the floor rather than the desk. Add an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, carrying heavy bags, and later on a child. Believe me, there was hardly a day when my back, neck, and hips didn’t make me feel like a rusty, ancient woman.

You would think the constant pain would have made me change my ways, but sadly it didn’t. It was seeing a case of bad posture in a person who is very dear to me. Someone who would transform from looking good to looking great and confident if it weren’t for the slouching. I knew my posture wasn’t much better, but it was my desire to help the other person that got me started.

Because we would be seeing each other every day for almost three weeks (which is the minimum amount of time to make a new habit stick), we both vowed to tell each other whenever we noticed one of us was slouching. You wouldn’t believe how effective that was! For the first few days, we had to remind each other constantly. 20 times a day. While we were eating, walking, sitting, doing chores, and yes, even our sleeping posture was bad.

Why good posture is important

There were a few things we noticed the moment we deliberately stood and walked with good posture:

  • we were able to breathe easier
  • we were feeling more confident and stronger
  • and our mood and digestion improved.

Good posture helps your body function properly. But there are also mental health benefits. Straightening up reminded me of the Peanuts comic strip that my therapist gave me when I was in my twenties. If you’re battling depression, anxiety or fatigue, this simple act of taking a straight stance can give you the push—and energy—you need to improve your life one day at a time.

How to improve your posture

    1. Become aware of your slouching.
      Asking a friend or the person you live with to tell you if they notice your bad posture is one of the most effective ways to improve quickly because pretty soon you’ll want to stop hearing about it.
      Take pictures and videos to see how you look when you sit, stand and walk.
      Wear a posture corrector as a physical reminder.
    2. Optimize your environment.
      Make sure your chair, desk, and screen have the optimum height to facilitate upright sitting. Watch the video below for instructions and additional tips (e.g. sleeping with a pillow between your knees, or using headphones while you’re on the phone).
      Tape a reminder to your wall. When I’m not wearing the posture corrector, it’s hanging over my chair so every time I see it, I immediately sit or stand straight.
    3. Take a few minutes a day to do proper posture exercises. A good point to start is the Posture Makeover YouTube channel, but even resting straight against a wall for a minute can train your muscles and your brain to improve your posture (see here for instructions and a self-test to check your progress).

Image: Darius Bashar

How to Stop Slouching: Why Good Posture Is Important | The Bold+Balanced Life by Alex Benkast