If you aren’t quite sure about the role that your posture plays in your work life, consider this: A study published by the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research has found that posture is actually closely linked to performance. What’s more, this research revealed that good posture can be especially helpful when you’re confronted with a stressful or anxiety-inducing task. 

In their study “Do Better in Math: How Your Body Posture May Change Stereotype Threat Response,” researchers from San Francisco State University and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan asked half of their participants to complete a mental math activity in a slouched sitting position, and the remaining half to do the same, but in an erect sitting position. After completing the activity, participants were asked to rate the difficulty of the task on a scale of one to 10. Those who performed the task hunched over gave a reasonably higher average score (6.2) than those who did the same with straight posture (4.9). 

These findings shed light an important element of posture: It plays a role in your ability to concentrate and perform, especially when you’re working on an assignment or project that causes undue stress. Study participants who already experienced high levels of math anxiety found the task more challenging when they were slouched over, and easier when they were upright. “The collapsed or slouched body posture is often similar to our protective defense reaction against danger. At that moment, it is more difficult to focus abstractly, because all our resources are being directed to immediate survival,” Erik Peper, Ph.D., a professor at San Francisco State University and a lead author of the study, tells Thrive. 

With that, it’s time we all consider not only how our posture in the workplace affects how we feel physically, but also how we think, and how we concentrate. Becoming more self-aware and correcting the way we sit and stand could play a huge part in feeling and performing your best. 

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