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Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #7: Power Pose

Has a grown-up ever told you to stop slouching or to sit up straight? I know the reminder might get on your nerves, but it turns out that improving your posture isn’t just useful for protecting your back or making your grandma happy. Good posture can actually make you feel better, too.


Yes, research shows that your body language affects the way you feel; it impacts the level of certain hormones circulating in your body. These hormones–like cortisol and adrenaline–mediate our stress responses to threatening situations.

Think about the way you sit or stand when you’re hurt, angry, scared, uncomfortable, or sad. You may slouch, cross you arms in front of your chest, cover your face or neck with your hands, or put your hands in your pockets. It’s almost as if you’re trying to make yourself appear smaller.

To other people, this posture makes you look small, and displays that in this moment you don’t have a lot confidence. What’s maybe even more important though, is that just as your body language communicates to other people you’re feeling insecure, it also simultaneously communicates to you that you feel insecure

Why is this important? Well, Dr. Amy Cuddy’s work demonstrates that in a mock job interview, participants who engaged in power posing beforehand not only improved their overall performance, but were more likely to be considered for hire.

The research is comprehensive and cuts across various populations. In fact, Cuddy’s received feedback from athletes, surgeons, politicians, elementary school students, victims of bullying, people with physical and mental disabilities, that adopting a confident pose generates feelings of self-assurance almost instantly.

So, what are power poses exactly?

Think of how you sit or stand when you feel proud, excited, brave, or happy. You probably stand tall with your shoulders back, chest out, chin tilted up slightly, and hands on your hips. You may even hold your arms up over your head in a V-shape (“V” for victory!).

These power poses are universal signs of a confident person. When you imagine the confidence that your favorite superhero embodies, you’ll notice that they often assume postures that make themselves seem bigger, more expansive, and proud.

Here’s the amazing thing: even if you don’t feel confident or happy or brave, standing in a high power posture will send a signal to your body to make you feel more confident. In essence, you can, “fake it till you make it.” Dr. Cuddy takes this one step further with the notion that you can actually, “Fake it till you become it.” In as little as 2 minutes a day, you can become more confident, and come across as confident to others, simply by practicing and visualizing your favorite power pose.

The next time you have to take a test, are meeting new people, or are just doing something that scares you, try standing in a power pose for two minutes beforehand, and see the effects on your body!

Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #7: Power Pose

1. Get in front of a mirror and stand in your favorite power pose. You might want to put your hands on your hips like Wonder Woman, or have your hands out in a “V” for Victory. Whatever you choose, stay in the pose for 2 minutes.

2. Next, find a paper napkin and pen. Draw yourself in the power pose. A simple stick figure will do! You just need a visual reminder of yourself in a feel-good position.

3. Jot down a few words that describe how the pose makes you feel–or how you want it to make you feel. For example, you may write “confident,” “happy,” “brave,” “smart,” or “strong.”

4. Keep your napkin with you. Having it will remind you to pay attention to your body language as you go about your day. This is especially helpful if you find yourself in a stressful situation, like confronting a bully at school, preparing for a test, or warming up for a big game.

5. Teach a friend the technique. Don’t worry if you feel a little silly at first–ask a friend to join you; silliness loves company!

Have an anxious child? Get tips, animations, meditations and more at

Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #7: Power Pose

Renee Jain, MAPP

Renee Jain is an award-winning tech entrepreneur turned speaker and certified life coach. She also holds a masters in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Renee specializes in cultivating skills of resilience in both adults and children. Her passion is taking research-based concepts and transforming them into fun and digestible learning modules. For children, she has created one-of-a-kind anxiety relief programs at GoZen! delivered via engaging animated shorts.

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APA Reference
Jain, R. (2017). Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #7: Power Pose. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Nov 2017
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