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8 Ways To Turn Stress Into Your Friend

8 Ways To Turn Stress Into Your Friend

We all face stress at one time or another. But, have you ever imagined taking stress and turning it in your favor? Wouldn’t it be great if you could cope with the all of the stressful challenges you’re put through in life by using that stress to thrive?

Stress comes in different forms. Sometimes it’s minor, like a flat tire or being late for work. Other times it’s major, and is caused by life-changing events such as the death of a relative, a divorce, or a large personal loss. However, the best thing to do is not to overthink things but to shift the way you handle stress and move forward. Check out these eight ways to turn stress into your friend:

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1. Unplug yourself

Everything in our lives seems to keep us connected or holds us back. If you are stressed, all you need to do is unplug yourself from your daily routine and live your life. Get out of your house for a day, but leave behind your cell phone and don’t check your email. Give yourself a break and see how it can do wonders in your life. Disconnecting yourself from all the daily activities you’ve been doing will give you time to ‘re-charge’ and be yourself.

2. Share

Stress can make you feel weak, and if you feel burnt out you need to talk about it. It can be with your partner, your parents, your boss, or anyone you are comfortable with. It’s also been said that sharing a problem is like cutting it in half. Talking to your closest friends will help you with motivation and will generate ideas on how you can move forward. It will also clarify your problem and open doors for different opportunities that you may not have noticed before.

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3. Sleep

In order to keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally, you need to get good sleep. Make sure you rest for at least 8 hours a day so that you can take the time to reflect and relax. There’s no need to rush. A proper rest will also clear out any negative thoughts that have been bothering you as well.

4. Keep moving

Lying around while you are stressed out is only going to make you feel worse. You need to get up and move in order to reduce your stress level and keep yourself calm. Make a daily exercise routine or join a gym. You need to push yourself in order to achieve what you desire.

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5. Focus

Stress drains your energy and destroys your desire to work. All you need to do is focus on different aspects of your problem and take your time to work through it. If stress gives you trouble, think about your life differently and concoct new ways on how you can deal with it. Focus on different issues that you are going through, make a checklist, and start finding ways on how you can solve them.

6. Accept that some things can’t be changed

It’s often best to accept the conventional wisdom that there’s no way to change the past. The best thing to do is accept the fact that everything happens for a reason and that some things are unchangeable. Learn to stop wasting time and energy fretting over past mistakes. What’s gone is never going to come back, so start living with what you have and seek new opportunities in life.

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7. Develop a positive attitude

Hanging on to your mistakes and feeling guilty all the time creates negative energy that can decimate your confidence. If you are stressed because of the mistakes that you’ve made, you don’t need to feel drained and frustrated. Seek help if you can’t make things right alone. Develop a positive attitude and try to let go of negative emotional anchors that simply drag you down. Learn new skills and do things that make you happy.

8. Create a new perspective

Stress can help you see life differently. For example, if you had a divorce and are stressed out by loneliness, go to parties, make new friends, and try to find people who you can enjoy life with. Maybe you and your previous partner were not meant to be together, and chances are you can find your true north if you move on. Learn from your mistakes and improve yourself; success is not far away if you change and start seeing things differently.

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ― Steve Maraboli

Featured photo credit: Shivmirthyu via pixabay.com

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Grishma Giri

Grishma Giri is a passionate writer who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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