Psychological Effects of Posture

Written By Tracy & Keim Chiropractic LLC on May 14, 2019

man with bad posture sitting at desk

May is posture month, and at Tracy and Keim we are promoting posture awareness among our patients and the public. Posture affects both mental and physical well-being. We’ll be looking at how posture influences our physical health later this month, but in this blog post we will focus on the effects of posture on our mental and emotional state.

Cognitive Performance

It seems almost too good to be true that practicing good posture can make you smarter, but your posture directly affects your level of alertness and your engagement in learning new material. The reticular activating system in your brainstem carries the information from your eyes, ears, and other senses to your brain. It’s responsible for determining what information is important enough to tell your brain about, and what to tell you to ignore. The location of this system in your body (descending from the brainstem to the spine) means that its function is related to your posture. Simply by practicing good posture while working or studying, you can improve your cognitive performance.


We can often tell how people are feeling simply by observing their body language. Straight posture generally indicates that a person is feeling well, while slouching expresses sadness, discouragement, or fatigue. But posture and mood are a two-way street. While it’s true that our posture reflects our mood, our mood also reflects our posture. In other words, you can change the way you feel simply by adjusting your body. A 2009 study demonstrated that people found it easier to think of positive things about themselves while sitting up straight than sitting slouched over. Interestingly, this same study found that the same people who sat up straight were more convinced that their thoughts were true than were those who sat with poor posture.

Posture also influences hormone levels in our body—most especially testosterone and cortisol. Standing tall with your head level increases testosterone. We often associate this hormone with masculinity, since men have higher levels of testosterone than women, but both genders produce this hormone. Among other things, it helps to maintain bone mass density and lean muscle, and also increases our feelings of well-being. The same posture that increases levels of testosterone in your body decreases cortisol levels. This hormone is essentially the opposite of adrenaline. While healthy in the right amounts, high levels of cortisol can create fatigue, mild depression, and confusion. The hormonal effect of good posture creates a feeling of confidence and well-being that can powerfully influence your mentality. Another piece of good news? It takes only two minutes to change your hormone levels through your posture.

While it’s common knowledge that our physical and mental well-being are powerfully interconnected, we don’t always take advantage of what we know to change how we feel. By becoming aware of your posture you can use your body to boost your mood, increase productivity, and learn more effectively. Interested in learning more? Check out, or try these tips for using the power of your body to benefit your mind.


If you have a sedentary job, try standing up for a few minutes at least once every hour. Simply changing position and allowing yourself to stretch and regroup periodically can help you to maintain better posture the rest of the time, and improve your mood and productivity.

Make time for a walk every day. Our bodies are designed to move, and a brisk walk, even if it only lasts for a few minutes, goes a long way to improve your posture and make you feel happier.

If you’re feeling blue or stressed, stand or sit up straight and lift your chin so that your gaze is level instead of downward. You’ll be surprised how quickly you feel better.



Posted In: General Health Posture