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Practice These 10 Little Things If You Want To Step Out From Your Comfort Zone

Practice These 10 Little Things If You Want To Step Out From Your Comfort Zone

Stay in your comfort zone and nothing will ever happen! There will be no changes at all in your life, no self-improvement, no gaining new skills and experiences. You have reduced stress to a minimum and routine is king. Just go back to sleep and enjoy the warmth and security.

Now, when you wake up again, think about this. If you were to move out of your comfort zone, how would you feel? Well, a bit scared, hungry, tired and downright uncomfortable. And what would you gain from all that? You could be happier, more successful and much more confident for a start. Then you would be able to get your fears into perspective, boredom would deflate like a burst balloon, and excitement would become your new power drug.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”- Brian Tracy

Now, let’s get started. Here are 10 small steps to help you get out of that stuffy comfort zone.

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1. Convert your anxiety into action

Too much anxiety can paralyze you. Too little can make you lethargic. Psychologists have identified the sweet spot which is somewhere in between. Practice identifying your fears and take action. The Nike slogan “Just do it” is a really great one.

2. Change your diet

Nothing drastic to start with. Maybe you need more energy and maybe you need to slim down. Get an app like My Fitness Pal which will tell you where you are going wrong. You can find a full list of apps here. Then eliminate the bad food gradually and start trying a new one every day or every week.

3. Try volunteering

Move out of your comfort zone and help others. Yes, it will be a bit strange and uncomfortable but the rewards are great. Watch the TED talk here by Mark Bezos who works in his spare time as a volunteer firefighter.

“If you have something to give, give it now.” – Mark Bezos

4. Break out of your routine

Look at how you do things and how you waste time. Is there a better way? Is the time you get up and what you do before breakfast set in stone by some merciless and fearful god? No! Start reading before you leave the house. That may mean getting up earlier but you will be amazed at the benefits.

5. Count the pennies

If you are on a tight budget, it may be time to keep a watchful eye on everything you spend. Leave your credit card at home and decide to pay for everything with cash. Try this for a few months and you will soon realize what you really need and what you can do without. You will be surprised at the savings you can make. These can go towards your next holiday.

6. Try not to be so shy

If you are like me, you will keep new social encounters to a minimum. It is the usual fear of venturing into new social territory. The next time, stay a little longer and you will discover that as you practice this regularly, the discomfort and unease will gradually disappear.

7. Set a new goal

If you want to get fit again, the enormity of the task will convince you it is just not worth it. Wrong again! Putting things off means they never get started, let alone completed. The secret is to write down some baby steps which will get you to that goal. Step one might be walking to the supermarket instead of taking the car. When you achieve that, move on to the next step. Celebrate each minor victory.

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8. Find a partner

No, not the usual soulmate till death us do part! This one is a bit more banal and you do not have to spend the rest of your life with them so it is a much more attractive proposition. Find a buddy to accompany you on those walks or visits to the gym. Find a friend to take along to a party when the socializing gets you down. If you do this, you have someone to share your goals with and also you have to be accountable. You will have to justify or explain why you did not achieve your goals. Your friend’s advice and support will help you to try again.

9. Do something scary

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear is locking you up and preventing you from discovering new opportunities and friendships. Make a list of your fears and then try to do at least one a week so that you are experiencing a little discomfort and anxiety. This can be anything from forcing yourself to speak up at a meeting (I hated that!) or offering to help someone with their errands. You will be glad you did and one of the rewards is greater confidence in yourself.

10. Time to get real

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”- Tim Ferris

Did you know that the more tough conversations you have, the more successful you are likely to be? I mean having frank conversations with a partner, friend or boss. This is the toughest one of all because we often build a wall of convenience around all our relationships. Deep down, there may be something that is making us unhappy or holding us back. Time to get real and talk this through with the person involved. This requires courage and when you do this, you are really moving out of your comfort zone.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”- John Augustus Shedd

Featured photo credit: Bungee Jump, Interlaken- Switzerland/Alan Light via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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