Having bad posture is one of the problems people tend to overlook because its symptoms usually don't come until years later - at least, that's what most people think. The truth is, poor posture can lead to common ailments such as sore muscles, nerve constrictions, numbness, and fatigue. The National Center for Biotechnology Information also states that poor posture in the workplace contributes to the worldwide increase of RSIs (Repetitive Stress Injuries) as well as various musculoskeletal disorders.
On the flip side, good posture has positive effects in almost every aspect of your life. Apart from looking good, posture can also affect your energy and stress levels during the day. In turn, it can improve your productivity, boost your confidence, and uplift your mood.
But just like any other bad habit, bad posture can be very difficult to eliminate. Your only hope is to replace it with better habits so you don't relapse back into your old ways.
Here are four simple habits that can straighten your posture for good:
1. Getting ZZZ's At Work
Again, one of the culprits behind the bad posture epidemic is sitting in a workstation for hours on end. You're also more likely to slouch and end up in a worse sitting position as you run out of energy. That's why the first habit you need to adopt is taking power naps.
Although this may sound impractical while at work, it's actually a great way to sustain your productivity as long as you do it in a controlled manner. Since napping recharges your energy, it will also be easier for you to maintain conscious effort as you try to correct your posture.
If you're lucky, your workplace may have nap rooms you can use to get your ZZZ's. This will allow you to sleep while keeping your spine as elongated and straight as possible. Otherwise, you'll have to be extra creative in integrating nap times in your schedule. Don't worry, you only need to nap for up to 20 minutes to enjoy the activity's restorative benefits.
2. Setting Reminders
Straightening your posture is actually easy to do - for a few minutes, that is. What you need is to constantly remind yourself throughout the day. The good news is, you can easily set reminders using everyday objects around you, including your smartphone, desktop computer, and post-it notes.
Take note that postural reeducation requires consistency. You need to make sure your spine is upright at all times to ensure the even distribution of your body weight, whether you're sitting, standing, or moving.
A simple note that says "straighten up" every thirty minutes or so should be enough to keep your posture in check. You can also leverage apps like PostureMinder for Chrome or the generic alarm tool on your phone to be alerted in set intervals. It will be hard at first, but you need to be consistent until it becomes second nature.
Whether you believe in the pseudoscience behind yoga or not, it's clear that stretching your bones and bending in certain positions can improve your posture. It can also lead to other health benefits such as reduced anxiety, lowered blood pressure, and lower back pain relief.
Today, the internet is teeming with free yoga-related materials you can use - from YouTube videos, blogs, and Facebook groups. Just remember that practicing by yourself may lead to minor injuries if you're not careful.
Practicing yoga, whether by yourself or a professional instructor, will also lead you to explore interesting spiritual terms such as prana (energy) and mudra (seals). Knowing this will keep you engaged and help you stick to the habit.
4. Brisk Walking
Having good posture must be a subconscious effort. That's why consciously trying to keep your posture straight can be extremely difficult. As a workaround, you can trick your mind into maintaining a straight body by performing something repetitive and beneficial to your health at the same time.
For this, one of the best activities you can try is brisk walking. Not only is it relatively easier than other cardio exercises, it will also help you maintain a healthy weight, relieve excessive stress, and lower your risk of heart disease.
Walking at night, especially in a quiet and relaxing location, is also one of the most relaxing activities you can ever experience - no matter where you live. It will enable you to expend your leftover energy and prepare you for a good night's sleep. Just make sure you do it in a familiar neighborhood or somewhere well-lit.
Always remember that habits must be enjoyed in order for them to stick. That's why I chose the habits above to help me win the fight against bad posture. Truth be told, that's all you need to understand if you want to take control of any habit. If you know other activities you enjoy and can somehow relate it to maintaining a good posture, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!