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8 Habits For a Better Work-Life Balance

8 Habits For a Better Work-Life Balance

For most of us who work, our time away from the office is spent on other responsibilities and it feels like we just never seem to be able to achieve the ever elusive, but very much talked about, work-life balance. As best as we try to attain such stability, it just seems like the more we pursue it, the more it slips through our fingers.

You may try your best to take some time off for yourself, however, these times always seem to get dedicated to more work: work around the house, running errands, basically anything that you’ve been meaning to do in your life that you were too tired to attend to after a long day of work. The intention to move towards balance is always present, however, most of us find it really hard to properly accomplish this state of being when we always feel too overwhelmed with work, responsibilities, and a constant sense of not being adequately productive.

Below are eight habits that can help you start working towards the goal of a well balanced life:

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1. Choose the quality of life you desire

In order for you to achieve work-life balance, you have to first determine the quality of life that you are hoping to achieve. While this might seem redundant, many of us have never really decided on the quality of life we aspire to maintain. Instead, we just take it a day at a time with no further thought to what we are really trying to create as our standard of living. This quality of life should not revolve on our possessions but rather on the more intangible (and fulfilling) parts of our lives, such as values and relationships.

2. Know your limits and respect them

Understand that you too have a breaking point where your body both physically and mentally will require a rest. Be in tune with yourself and know how to manage your body. It is best to know your limits and stay within these parameters than to overdo it and regret it later.

3. Set aside time for those close to you

Your family and friends usually tend to be the ones that will help you realize when you are overdoing it. However, those closest to us are usually the ones who get to share less of our time if we are constantly working. Be sure to set aside some quality time with the ones that matter the most.

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4. Build a support network

Usually your support network is made up of those who have been there to support you through your successes and failures without judgment, simply attending to you with a listening ear and words of encouragement. Be sure to surround yourself with those who will always present you with truth and honesty and able to build you up in your times of weakness.

5. Increase your social activities

Get out of the house, fill your calendar with more than just meetings and deadlines, find a common interest group, join an exercise group or attend that weekly social event you always wondered about. The point is to get out of your normal surrounding and your monotonous daily routine. Discover the life that is happening around you.

6. Take some time off

It may surprise you but your coworkers (and your boss for that matter) will survive your absence, no matter what they tell you. Be sure to take some time off for yourself to reconnect, relax, and just enjoy a couple of days where you have absolutely nothing in your planner! Whether you choose a travel destination or simply decide to rediscover your city: take the time to enjoy yourself.

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7. Turn off technology

Social media, television, laptops, and other electronic devices can survive without you too. You can benefit significantly from disengaging from these devices for a few hours. You don’t always have to be the first to know what’s going on in the online social universe. Take some time off to do something relaxing and give your fingers and eyes a rest.

8. Periodically reevaluate your life

Sometimes it’s good to look at where you’ve come from and see where you are in life. Is it where you planned to be? What factors that are in your control could you change? Take some time to consider this and make necessary adjustments.

We all get the same amount of hours in the day, but it is how we organize them that separate the success stories from the failures when it comes to work-life balance. Everyone’s idea of work-life balance differs but one thing is for sure: we all share a need for some form of equilibrium in our lives.

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Featured photo credit: WordPress via tnrtb.files.wordpress.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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