Here’s a simple and easy way to feel better in tough social situations: Practice good posture. 

Dr. Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist at Harvard Business School. And she says that how we stand can make us feel more competent, attractive, and self-assured. That’s because striking what Dr. Cuddy calls a “power pose” reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and raises levels of confidence-building chemicals in both men and women. The result? Lower anxiety, lower blood pressure, and a sense of calm and confidence.

Communications consultant John Neffinger says the most effective power pose is to stand with our legs wide, hands on hips, like Superman. He says if we do that for 2 minutes every morning, or somewhere private before a work presentation, we’ll feel more confident for hours. And to stay feeling confident when things get stressful, like meeting new people, we should keep our shoulders back, and keep our head level, while raising our chin slightly. 

Dana Carney is a social psychologist from Berkeley and she says, how we carry ourselves can actually change our mood, which greatly affects how you approach situations and solve problems. It also makes others perceive us as more attractive and competent. It’s why military and police academies make recruits stand a certain way. It not only changes the perception of others, but also their perceptions of themselves. 

And the opposite is also true, your posture can make you feel worse, and make others perceive you as weak and unsure. So don’t slouch or make yourself smaller. Avoid touching your neck, crossing your arms over your chest or grasping the elbow of your opposite arm hanging at your side. Those are all gestures that make you seem vulnerable.