When undertaking any task related to habit building, be it hydration, exercise, or in this case, posture, it is important to remember there is no magic trick that skips all the hard work and dedication required.
Be aware – Improving posture is about building habits.
Becoming conscientious and proactive about your posture will not just happen overnight. It is an involved process that takes months of habit-building and discipline. However, the payoff is fantastic.
We all notice when we have a sore spot, be it your neck, back, or shoulders, however, we are not always good at noticing the behavior responsible for the development of these pains. To train yourself to practice good posture at all times, you must first practice being aware of your posture at all times. This is easier said than done, as our posture is an ever-present part of our existence. Be it sitting, standing, or even laying down, our posture affects us all the same.
The best way to learn to be aware of your posture is simply to give yourself gentle reminders throughout the day. Every now and then (tip: set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself!) take inventory of how you are sitting or standing. Are your shoulders hanging low? Is your back hunched over? Are you slouching down in your chair? These are all important questions to ask yourself to take an accurate assessment of your posture. Take a second to correct your posture, to sit up straight, bringing your sternum as far up (not forward!) as you can, relax your shoulders and adjust them back if they’re slouching. Take a deep breath. Try to remember what the feeling of good posture feels like. Breathe out and relax.
It is important you focus on posture before it becomes a regular concern in your life. Your posture always affects you, and the issues that arise from bad posture take hold gradually. Often times once you recognize health issues arising from bad posture, you have already been victim to bad posture for years.
So, you have recognized the bad habits early enough. Now, how do you develop good habits? The key to developing good posture habits is to first start slow and always remember to be patient with yourself. You must also develop the mental habit of auditing your own posture regularly. When you first correct your posture, it is natural for your body to gradually shift back to the bad posture you are use to. It is a habit you have likely built for years and it will take time to create a new normal for your body.
It is also important to remember that lot of people who start to fix their posture find that the stabilization muscles that would usually help them to maintain proper posture have atrophied from a lack of use, and sitting upright can quickly tire them out. This is why it is important to slowly build posture habits - as well as strength, and always remember to be kind to yourself as you progress. Self improvement is not a race and often times we end up bullying ourselves for our lack of progress rather than being kind and gentle self teachers.