Why the best thing for your work could be…sitting up
Sure, slouching is bad for your back and neck—you knew that. Now a study suggests it may also affect how you feel about the very thing you’re working on.
The researchers found that people who slumped as they worked on a stressful task had more negative thoughts, fear, and low self-esteem than people who sat up straight.
This finding makes sense to me. It explains the deteriorating spiral that can take over when writing (or any thought-intensive task) isn’t going well. Obstacle -> slumping -> discouragement -> task feels harder -> more slumping -> and on it goes until you’re scrunched up in an unproductive ball of dark thoughts.
In my own experience, trying to change my thinking in the middle of a difficult project is easier said than done. So could I focus on my posture as a way of coaching my mind?
Here’s what I’ve been doing since I read about the study:
- When I catch myself slouching, sit up straighter.
- When I notice my thoughts spiraling into this-is-impossible territory, sit up straighter.
I anticipated that this would feel extremely unnatural. But it’s a simple enough routine that I’ve been able to do it pretty consistently. It doesn’t even require that I stop working or get out of my chair.
It’s also slowing down my breathing, which is always a good thing.
I should mention that “sit up straighter” doesn’t mean stiffening my back, or locking my shoulders, or anything that rigid. It’s more a matter of letting my spine extend upward, Somatic-Learning-style.
Work seems to be going a little easier. My neck thanks me; over time, I bet my attitude will too.