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Sit Up Straight, It’s Good For Your Brain & Other News

Posted Oct 08 2009 10:00pm

Remember all those times when you were growing up and your mum or dad or teacher would say “Stop slouching, sit up straight”, well they had a point. A new study says that doing just that, sitting up straight, isn’t just good for your posture, it’s also good for your self-confidence!

Sounds peculiar I know but the study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, found that people who were told to sit up straight, and then were told to write down feelings about whether they were qualified for a job, were more likely to believe what they wrote than people who did the same exercise but were slumped in their chair.

So, just to repeat that. Sitting up straight makes you more inclined to believe good things about yourself. Slumping means you are less likely. Fascinating eh.

The researchers say it shows how body posture can influence the way we feel about ourselves, so if we walk around with a confident air, upright and with our chest out, we are not only more likely to create a positive impression in those who see us, we are also more likely to create a confident impression in ourselves. Which makes sense when you think about it. Why else would Marine Staff Sergeants yell at recruits to “Put your chest out and your shoulders back you worthless piece of scum, you worm, you horrible little man” unless it was to help boost their self-esteem!

So, next time you are feeling glum and blue, try sitting up straight or walking with your shoulders back and chest out. At the very least it will get those people around you wondering what the heck you have to be so happy about!

As a side note, this research follows on from a 2003 study by the same researchers in which they studied the impact of nodding your head. Hey, I’m not making this up. They found that people had more confidence in their thoughts when they nodded their head up and down, as if saying yes, than they did when they shook their head from side to side, as if saying no.

Our brains are really fascinating things aren’t they. Kinda freaky, but fascinating nonetheless.

Eat nuts to avoid going nuts

We’ve long known that the so-called Mediterranean diet is good for your physical health, but now comes news that it may also be good for your mental health.

A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that people who eat a Mediterranean diet – namely one that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts and fish – are less likely to develop depression than people who eat a more meat-based diet.

The researchers asked 10,094 (odd number isn’t it, couldn’t they at least get six more folks and make a nice 10,100!)  Spaniards about their diet over six years. Those who stuck most closely to the Mediterranean diet model were 30 percent less likely to suffer from depression than people who ate a diet with a lot more meat and other junk.

So, you are probably thinking that people who are happy are much more likely to lead a healthier lifestyle anyway, and eat a healthier diet. But the cool thing about the study is that even after they took into account all the other markers of a healthy lifestyle the results were still the same. So it seems as if there is something in the diet itself that offers some protection.

The researchers aren’t quite sure why, but think that there may be something in the monounsaturated fats that helps improve blood vessel function, fight inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease and helps repair oxygen-related cell damage. Any or all of those factors could help decrease the risk of developing depression.

And even if the researchers were to admit they haven’t a clue why the diet works, really, who cares. It works! And you know what. It tastes damn good too. Isn’t that all you need to know.

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