An upcoming paper by academics at the University of Auckland has looked into how a good stance can help treat those clinically diagnosed with moderate depression, marking the first time such a link has been found.
Lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Broadbent enrolled 61 participants suffering mild-to-moderate depression and while half were allowed to sit naturally, the others were told to sit up properly during a screening test. She instructed the second category to level their shoulders, straighten their backs, extend the top of their heads towards the ceiling and pull their shoulder blades back down and together. A stiff piece of tape was placed on their backs, pulling tight if they slouched.
Participants were then given a high-pressured stress-measuring task; a five-minute speech which they were informed would be judged, and they were then told to count backwards from 1,022 in sets of 13. Throughout the test people were told to give feedback on their mood, and it was discovered that those who sat up straight reported more enthusiasm and energy.
“Compared to sitting in a slumped position, sitting upright can make you feel more proud after a success, increase your persistence at an unsolvable task, and make you feel more confident in your thoughts,” Dr. Broadbent explained.
“Research also suggests that sitting upright can make you feel more alert and enthusiastic, feel less fearful, and have higher self-esteem after a stressful task.”
Those sitting upright were also able to speak clearer during the high-demanding tasks, which could prove beneficial for mental health care.
However, while talking to Psychology Today, Dr. Broadbent noted context and situation also play a big part in how posture impacts mood and that more research is needed into this area. The findings are due to be published later this year.