Posture Affects Mood, and Mood Affects Posture
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing anxiety, stress, low mood and even clinical depression. Weeks of social and physical distancing and stay-at-home orders wear on people, to say the least. We’re not used to feeling so “out of control.” It can feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under you, if you were furloughed or your position is now considered non-essential. No one wants to feel “non-essential.”
When mood suffers, so can physical posture. When it seems as if the whole world is shouldering the weight of a pandemic, is it really a surprise that lots of people end up hanging their heads, rounding their shoulders and slumping more?
The effects of the pandemic on mood are also affecting our bodies, including our posture. That makes this an excellent time to call a physical therapist with an in-depth understanding of the relationship between mind and body. Because, as I have written on this site before, posture affects mood, and mood affects posture.
If you already work with a physical therapist familiar with your health history, physical capabilities and past injuries, don’t be shy about sharing any new developments, in terms of mood or anxiety. It’s important to be proactive and avoid secondary physical problems that could come from emotional ones. Physical therapists should always be holistic in their approach.
Your therapist should be able to provide you with a home exercise program. This ensures that you can continue a healthy exercise routine, even if a health care facility is not available. Your home routine should emphasize exercises for sound posture, a dynamic body basic for all movements—whether sitting, standing or using exercise equipment.
Here’s something to try, even starting right now:
- Stand in front of the mirror in your normal, everyday stance.
- Look and see and feel how you are standing, but don’t change anything.
- Now, just observe . . .
- Are you standing with your toes actually on the ground?
- Are your hips level?
- Are your shoulders open and broad?
- Are your arms falling at your sides?
- Is your head positioned above your shoulders (ears over shoulders)?
Try to actually adopt the above positions for your feet, hips, shoulders, arms and head.
Look in the mirror a few times each day. You will begin to see and feel and understand how making this posture routine will improve your outlook and mood.
Kathi Fairbend, MS RPT