Russell Skinner, MD
Posture is the structural framework of your body. It is not a position, but a dynamic pattern of reflexes, habits, and adaptive responses to anything that resists you being more or less upright and functional, such as:
A proper posture is associated with health and optimal human function. Slouched posture is associated with weakness, poor physical conditions, decreased confidence, and deficits of neurologic function.
We tend to move and hold ourselves in ways that serve social and emotional needs, or avoid clashing with them: posture can be happy or sad, brave or fearful, submissive or dominant, indifferent or anxious. The challenges and rewards of changing your posture are not just musculoskeletal. Posture can alter your emotions and affect how confidently you approach situations and solve problems, which affect how powerful you appear to others.
Mentally fatigued? Nervous? Stressed? Take a super-stance.
There is a simple approach that you can use to overcome anxiety, lessen stress, and boost your confidence. The best part? It works instantaneously and only takes two minutes to prep.
Yup. Simply by standing like Wonder Woman (or Superman) — feet apart, hands on hips, chest out — for two minutes, you can re-boot yourself. This is not a joke. It’s science!
Researchers from Columbia and Harvard Universities have classified different body positions as “high power” or “low power” poses. In their studies, they found that when high power poses are held for two minutes, cortisol, a stress hormone, is reduced by up to 25 percent while testosterone increases by 20 percent (even for women).
The "so what" to this is that higher levels of testosterone (in both men and women) lead to increased feelings of confidence. Meanwhile, lower levels of cortisol result in decreased anxiety and an improved ability to deal with stress.
High power poses, like Wonder Woman or a Reflexive V, not only can result in greater self-confidence and increase the confidence others have in us, but such expansive poses, in which chest and arms are open rather than closed, can help prevent recovering alcoholics from relapsing; help people take initiative and risks; and even increase pain tolerance.
So, when feeling fatigued or stressed or before heading into a stressful situation, strike a two-minute power pose. And always avoid slouching or otherwise “folding into yourself” or “making yourself smaller.”