I am frequently asked what is the best posture when sitting at your desk. Inherently, most of us already know the answer, but I would like to approach it from two sides. First, there is no such thing as one best posture. The most we can generate is the least stressful posture. In this case it is sitting upright without a forward bend at the neck and good low back support. This means that in this posture you are able to spend the most amount of time before stressing joints and fatiguing muscles. This does not mean, however, that sitting in this posture will remove back and neck pain and eliminate the slew of issues that come with prolonged sitting. The reason I make this first distinction is to emphasize the need for consistent movement breaks and reduced sitting throughout the day.
There is a second piece that is shown to guide us toward an upright posture. Mood. It was found that 92% of participants were able to generate positive thoughts more easily in an upright posture than when slumped . This shows that not only could we maintain an improved mindset in an upright posture, but also improve our day. Sitting upright, however, will only take you so far. If you feel that you need a mental reset it is much better to go for a 10 minute walk and get full body movement than just sitting upright. Upright sitting should be thought of as a tool to reduce the effects of prolonged sitting and not a solution. It is much easier to maintain an upright posture if our environment automatically dictates it.
If you are able to set up your chair height properly, sit all the way back in the chair with your feet flat on the floor or a pile of books (which is my consistent preference), and position your monitor high enough as to minimize slouching, you will set yourself up for an improved physiology and state of mind. If you want to take your office environment further in terms of supporting your mental health and positivity, decluttering your space and moving furniture with intention are great places to start. Separate articles on both decluttering and intention about your work environment are coming, but for now start with your desk!
Wilson, V.E., Peper, E. The Effects of Upright and Slumped Postures on the Recall of Positive and Negative Thoughts. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 29, 189–195 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:APBI.0000039057.32963.34