Bad Posture Makes You Sad and Afraid, Study Finds

2 minute read

Science has a long history of proving that how we arrange our muscles affects how we feel about ourselves. Even the Botox we inject comes with the happy side effect of less depression, one study found.

A less invasive path to an instant mood lift is to simply sit up straight, according to a new study published in Health Psychology.

Researchers studied what effect slumped or straightened posture had on the hearts and minds of 74 people in New Zealand, who were strapped into their assigned postures with tape. Their blood pressure and heart rates were measured as they completed a series of tasks designed to assess their mood, self-esteem and stress levels.

If this is all starting to sound like ballet class, well, your teacher was onto something. Being an upright citizen provides all kinds of benefits. “The upright participants reported feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong, while the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish,” study authors write. Good posture was also associated with higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions. That’s not all: they also had stronger pulse responses than their slumped friends.

If you don’t have a researcher to tape you into your chair, try these five easy moves to better posture. Your fear responses will thank you.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Mandy Oaklander at