There is a simple, often overlooked body hack that studies suggest can improve your mood and maintain your self-esteem.


Most writers experience this at one time or another: a writing slump. You drag yourself over to your work-space, plop yourself down, and suddenly it hits you. The critical inner dialogue ramps up. You feel overwhelmed or lethargic. You simply don’t feel like doing anything. Maybe you dread writing so much, you don’t even bother with the pretense of sitting in your work-space.

You flail. You give up.

There are many factors that can go into a writing slump. Maybe the project you’re working on is meant to go in a new direction, but you’re fighting the shift because you already made a plan. Maybe you’ve received rejection after rejection and have convinced yourself that you’re no good at writing. Maybe you’re physically ill or dealing with a mental illness or emotional hardship.

You feel down and your writing reflects that. It’s filled with sadness and negative words. You read over your work and become even more upset.

It’s a vicious cycle.

But it doesn’t have to be. There is a simple, often overlooked body hack that studies suggest can improve your mood and maintain your self-esteem. So what is it?

Good posture.

This doesn’t mean having your back stick-straight or staying in a single, rigid position. It’s about lengthening your spine while respecting its many curves. It’s about unclenching muscles that don’t need to be tensed (for most people, this usually happens around the back of the neck and the shoulder area). It’s about fighting against gravity in a way that is natural and healthy for you. It’s about listening to your body when it tells you it’s time to take a stretch break.

When you stop slouching, you give your lungs and other organs room to breathe. This makes your organs happy. They stop sending stress signals to your brain (or they reduce the stress signals if there are other preexisting medical conditions). And when your brain has one less situation to worry about, it feels better. You feel better. There’s more space in your working memory to focus on writing.

For an in-depth discussion on various aspects of healthy writing posture, read this. (The article is geared toward able-bodied people and should be adjusted as needed. Please speak with your doctor or physical therapist if you have questions.)

Health Psychology Vol. 34 (6), June 2015
SF State News

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One thought on “Energize Yourself and Your Writing With This Easy Trick”

  1. Helpful reminder! Sometimes, if I’m in the right kind of chair, I put my arms around the back and lengthen my spine that way. It’s especially critical when you’re on a laptop, I think!

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