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6 Things You Need to Know If You Love a Recovering Alcoholic

6 Things You Need to Know If You Love a Recovering Alcoholic

Fighting addiction is a long and arduous process. Not only does it take courage to admit to being an addict, but taking the first step toward recovery is just as difficult. First of all, the addict himself needs to have both the need and will to go through it. Then, the loved ones need to do the same. Having each other’s support is highly important during a recovery.

Unfortunately, alcoholism is nothing new to the world, and each year we have statistics showing which country has the heaviest drinkers. More than 3 million annual deaths are related to alcohol consummation. This translates to 5.9% of all deaths, according to WHO (World Health Organisation). Moreover, people don’t just die from drinking too much alcohol, e.g. as a result of liver failure, but also from accidents cause by their impaired mental capacities, e.g. large number of car accidents, fires, or falls. Evidently, these statistics paint a very dark picture.

Nevertheless, even though alcoholics face many serious issues, they can still get out of the gutter. With a little bit of help from support groups, and friends and family, they could become healthy again. So, long as they are willing, a second chance could be around the corner. And if you are close to a recovering alcoholic, whether it’s a friendship or a love relationship, you need to understand how to deal with the situation. Here are some of the major things to know.

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1. Some problems can linger on even after the drinking stops.

As mentioned in the introduction, fighting any addiction is a process. Even though they have decided to give up alcohol, new problems could arise during the recovery process. These may or may not be related to wanting to drink again. For example, social communication could be a problem for the recovering alcoholic, and things like being unable to concentrate or be attentive. Additionally, sleep problems could occur, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, which in turn may lead to more serious issues.

All of these are possible and totally normal. It is important to know that nothing can be, nor should be, done by force. You should have patience and help them gradually crawl back into a normal routine. Moreover, you can always seek help from a professional such as a therapist.

2. Relapse can happen in moments of weakness.

This is one of the things you need to be on the alert for. The worst thing that could happen is for the recovering alcoholic to go back to his old habits. However, there are a few signs to pay attention to in order to prevent a relapse. A sudden change in behavior, such as aggressiveness or seclusion, could be first signs of giving up.

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Also, if your partner starts hanging out with the wrong crowd, once again, you should take extreme action and put a stop to it. But try and approach them in a calm manner. Any judgment or rash movement could scare them and push them away even further. You could also suggest going to an AA meeting or spending more time with their sponsor. If you are really scared or have major doubts, you can always make them take a drug test, to be sure they haven’t relapsed.

3. They will sometimes use their condition as leverage.

They will be fragile and prone to moments of sadness or depression, from time to time. They will likely use their condition to manipulate you. The important thing here is not to fall for their tricks.

They might say they are unable to do something because they are having a hard time. Or perhaps, blackmail you into giving them something because of the hardship their recovery carries. Either way, do not accept this and be strong. You will probably feel sorry for them, but you should actually push back and defy them.

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4. Love and support aren’t enough—you need to seek out professional help.

When times get rough, and when you cannot handle the situation by yourself, reach out to someone. Maybe talking to a friend or consulting with a therapist could help you relieve the excess stress. Perhaps, going to AA meetings regularly could get you through the rough patch. And you could attend those meetings together.

This would give you a different perspective on how your loved one really feels, and what are the issues at hand. In the end, you could have a couple’s therapy, if the problem is in your romantic relationship. All in all, do anything you can to help both of you.

5. Pulling them away from a bad environment may seem like you are suffocating them.

As said, you need to go above and beyond while supporting your partner. They could become weak and succumb to a temptation, such as hang around people with bad influence or bars—actually, any place that could trigger them. You shouldn’t be too hard on them in your quest of helping.

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Maybe you should keep them away from these conditions in the beginning, but as they progress, you could start involving them in social events like going out to clubs or having a drink in front of them. Be careful to do this step by step; it will be hard for them, for sure, but it is a necessity that cannot be avoided.

6. They are not the only ones who need support and understanding.

The same way your loved one needs help during this period, you will need it, too. Helping someone overcome an addiction is a demanding task, both physically and mentally. The first thing you will need to do is educate yourself on alcoholism and its consequences, as well as how to help an addict. What is more, you need to stay active all the way through the process.

Nevertheless, if you start feeling exhausted or lonely, misunderstood—ask for help. There are various support groups for friends and families of recovering alcoholics. Being in touch with people who are in the same position as you could be of great benefit. Not only will you get encouragement, but you will also be able to express yourself and your concerns along the way.

Although things can get quite difficult, it’s important to remember why you love that person and understand that he or she is going through the most difficult time of their lives. However, you should also set boundaries and find some support for yourself as well. Be strong, and take things one tiny step at a time.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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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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