What is the posture of depression and how does it impact dentists?

depressionZoe Close caught up with dentist, speaker and business coach, Barry Oulton, to explore his claims about the posture of depression and its big impact on the profession.

You have an interesting view on what you call ‘the posture of depression’. Can you explain what it is and what affect it can have?

Well, ‘posture of depression’ is something that is down to our physiology, our body posture and thoughts. This combination dictates exactly how we are feeling.

So, for example, if someone is feeling depressed, then they will have a bowed head, shoulders forward and slouched, and their breathing is shallow. However, if someone is confident and they are on top of the world, then they will have their head up, their shoulders back and their breathing patterns would be slow and deep.

I first saw how posture of depression really worked when I was on a training course with about 9,000 other people. We were asked to get into groups of three. The first person was asked to think of a time in their life that was really emotional. Whether that is happy or sad.

Person number two, which was me, had to copy what person number one looked like; in the way they held themselves and the way they stand. Then person number three was asked to look at person number two (myself) and move me to make me match person number one in terms of their posture.

So, number three came over to me and changed a few things with my posture. I remember he changed my bicep position and a few other things. Then all of a sudden I started to become quite emotional. I could see myself standing in a hospital holding something. I became overwhelmed and started to cry.

They then brought the activity to a close, and at the end of the scenario I had to ask person number one what their emotional position was. He said that he went back to when he was in hospital holding his new born child as doctor’s worked to save his wife’s life.

It completely and totally blew my mind. Amazingly, more than 20% of other people on that course had a similar experience.

What that exercise demonstrated to me was how powerful our body position actually is. The way we hold ourselves, how we stand or sit, our head position and everything else. It all really dictates how we are feeling and our mood.

There are a lot of different exercises and activities that you can do as a dentist, or as a member of the practice team. They will help with your mood and really change how you are feeling.

How can dentists combat the posture of depression?

What I do with a lot of clients is explain all these things I have experienced, and how they have taught me an awful lot about how our body position can impact on our mood. Then I tell them to watch a speech from Professor Amy Cuddy, who gave a Ted Talk on this specific topic.

From Professor Cuddy’s research, it is as simple as standing up for two minutes. So, for example, in practice you might have a dentist who is in the same position for eight hours a day. They are seeing back-to-back patients and things are very busy.

If they are in that position, they are more likely to feel depressed and down. Their position is always negative, and it receives no respite in the form of a more positive, happy posture.

The way for dentists to combat this is to incorporate what are called ‘power poses’ into their working day. This is proven to increase the endorphins (happy hormones) and decrease the levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Thus it counteracts the opposite situation when working in dentistry.

So, what I advise is for dental team members to stand up between each treatment. Move around and do some power poses. One example is the ‘Wonder Woman’ pose – hands on the hips and legs apart. This significantly increases testosterone in just two minutes, which can then lead to a change in mood.

By holding positive poses, you feel more positive. Another tip I give dentists is to wear loupes and even use a microscope. This is extremely helpful for having better posture and that then leads to a better mood.

All these things work and change our mood and feelings. As I’ve explained, a lot of it comes from Professor Amy Cuddy. She really is one person to check out.

And if you want to learn more about posture of depression and how it impacts us, you can do so by going to www.theconfidentdentist.com/optin-31034473 and getting in touch.

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