Do an audit of your body and posture right now. Is your back straight? What about your legs and arms? How much physical space are you taking up at this moment?
Notice how the simple act of being aware of your posture makes you automatically correct it. You don’t usually think about it, it’s automatic. You sit in a particular way; you stand and walk in a particular way. You’ve been doing it ever since you were a toddler so your posture in different situations has become a subconscious habit through years and years of repetition.
But that does not make it correct.
Just because you’ve been doing it for such a long time does not automatically mean you are doing it right. With the average person spending more than 1700 hours per year at work and spending up to 5.11 hours per day watching TV, researchers have estimated that we spend as much as 15.5 hours per day sitting down. In other words, if you are not sleeping, you are most likely sitting down.
Your posture and how you use your body has a deep effect on your mood, energy, self-image and can lead to, or prevent, many physical injuries. With so much time spent sitting and with correct posture and body language being so vital to your daily productivity, you need to know how to set yourself and your workstation for optimal results.
How your posture and body language affect your mood and energy
Up to 75% of communication is non-verbal. Your body language will dictate how other people perceive you. It also affects your own self-image, how you see yourself. Your thoughts, moods, actions and even your level of energy, are directly related to how you use your body.
Your posture is typically a reflection of how you feel inside.
If I tell you there is a happy, successful, person who just got a promotion behind number door number one and a frustrated, overwhelmed office worker who just got the news that he needs to work during the weekend behind number door number two, can you imagine them? How are they using their bodies? The happy person is probably standing up, smiling from side to side, hands up in the air, breathing deeply and enjoying the moment. The office worker is probably slouched over his desk, hands are rolled up in tight first, clenching their jaw and tensing their entire body.
Your thoughts and your feelings affect your body. But is the opposite also possible? Can you make yourself feel in a certain way just by changing how you use your body?
When you sit or stand straight you increase the blood flow and circulation within your body. Just like when you bend your limbs in some awkward position you can experience numbness due to a decreased blood flow, when you keep them in the right position, you facilitate the blood reaching all parts of your body.
A good posture also increases your oxygen levels. When you sit with your back and head straight, you are allowing yourself to take deeper breaths and pump more air into your system.
Maximizing your blood and oxygen circulation will maximize your energy level as well.
You may not even be aware of how unfriendly and injury-inviting your workspace is. A lot of the pains and discomfort you experience are linked to how you sit at your desk or workstation. Here are the most common pain areas: Low Back, Neck, Shoulders, and wrists.
Improper posture can lead to repetitive strain injuries (SRI), carpal tunnel and even pinched nerves in the shoulders, neck and back from slouching and keeping your upper body tensed for extended periods of time.
It’s time for an ergonomic makeover!
It should feel natural and relaxed. If you feel pain or major discomfort in any area of your body, something is not right, consult your doctor. Some discomfort is natural as this might be an unusual position for your body at first. You might be used to slouching all the time so it will take some time for the body to adjust to the new change.
Consider getting a lumbar support. It will greatly improve your posture and in some cases, the comfort of your chair.
How to optimize your posture
Setting up your desk and chair will help you increase your productivity, but here is how to take the concept even further:
Take breaks – every 40 – 50 minutes take a 5 minute break. Stand up, walk around, stretch and relax your joints and muscles (this is also a great energy booster). Set up a timer so you don’t forget to take your break.
Stretch – while sitting down and during your breaks.
You spend so much time in a chair that it is worth spending a little bit of it to optimize your experience. Your feelings and moods dictate how you use your body, but the reverse is also true. Use that to your advantage. Make yourself feel better, increase your energy, “deskercise” even and you will boost your overall productivity and performance while simultaneously reducing the risk for injuries.