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5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Go on that Road Trip

5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Go on that Road Trip

Have you been feeling tired, over-worked and stressed out about life, love and your career? Maybe you’ve been feeling on the brink of checking yourself into a mental health facility – but you don’t even have the strength to do that! Whether you are fizzling out or not, one thing that is never a bad idea, is a good old dose of what’s called a “Road Trip” – especially with those you deem your closest friends!

Yes, that trip that allows you to escape the mundane of everyday living, and provides you with some much needed R&R (caution: Rest may be limited due to your preferences of having fun). However, by going on a Road Trip you have the opportunity to see more, experience more and appreciate more. In the age of “gadgets-and-gizmos” and where everything from our meals to our hours with family and friends are planned out, this is probably one of the most spontaneous things to do. By going on a Road Trip with friends, especially if they are as crazy as mine, make way for the spunk known as spontaneity!

Neither finances, nor means of getting there is a problem. As the saying goes: “Where there is a will, there is a way.” If you open yourself up to it, you will find creative ways to ensure you have the best time possible, without spending too much money in the process. For once stop allowing your fears and inhibitions to control every aspect of your life and make that decision to go on that road trip and have some fun!

Still need more convincing? Here are 5 reasons why you should absolutely go on that Road Trip:

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1. Opportunity to Let Go

As mentioned above – you have the opportunity to escape all the stressful factors in your life and take a breath of fresh air – and the best of all, you get to that with friends. You have the opportunity to stop the life that is passing you by and you get to actually live it. By not being consumed by hours and deadlines, time will become your friend and no longer your enemy – this is the key to bringing you the healing you might need.

    Photo by Marlè Visagie

    2. Opportunity to See More of Your Country

    Take a beat and realize that you find yourselves in a world that is spectacular in its beauties and wonders. We often get so lost in the problems in our lives, the problems of the world and yes, the problems that often hit a lot harder with the fear of the future for our children, our country. However, if we are constantly looking for the worst in situations, we will find it. Like my Dad said when my music choices (cough-cough, any rock lovers out there?) were being frowned upon: “If you look for the Devil in something, you will find him.”

    If all I do today is leave you with one thought, let it be this: Do not let fear and negativity rule your mind and emotions. This will hold you back in all aspects of life, and truth be told – no one really appreciates the pessimistic person referred to as the “Party-Pooper.” Let us stop overlooking the beauty and the exciting experiences that our own country has to offer us and let us embrace it – arms stretched out and running like the cliché of a love boy and girl through the fields of flowers, eagerly awaiting each other– with an open heart and mind.

    We have too many roads less travelled, oceans not yet seen, forests not yet explored and people not yet met.

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    IMG_6688
      Photo by Marlè Visagie

      Which brings me to my third reason:

      3. Opportunity to Meet New People

      Ah – nothing like the locals of a town to bring a new sense of flavor and adventure into our lives. From showing you the ins and outs of your destination to helping you with new skills like hiking, paddle-boarding, surfing and many more, all of which broaden your horizon and literally turn you into a new person.

      You should also not forget about all the other exotic travellers from within your country, as well as without, that you get to meet. It is in them that you see new places, new cultures and new ways of doing things – which is very important for personal growth and understanding – something we all need a little extra of in the world that we find ourselves in today. These new friends will not only allow you to leave your mark on them, but they will leave their mark on you – making you want to stay longer than what you originally planned.

      95981e482a41cd59302e3b4af830762a
        Photo via Pinterest

        4. Opportunity to Make Some Unforgettable Memories

        One thing you can be certain of is this: you will make memories and you will make lots of them. Whether you opted for something as peaceful and relaxing as a wine-tasting (which in my case would just turn out to be one big party – what can I say, we love our wine) or something a little along the wild side, like a quick skinny dip in the ocean. Whatever it is you decide to do – the memories you make will last you a lifetime, it will carry you through all the ups and downs in life, it will bring a smile to your face once you find yourself back in the mundane of things and it will make you spontaneous in your planning of the next Road Trip. How can there not be a next one?

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        Nothing is too big or too small for this trip – the things you do will end up being the things that bring a warm feeling of fondness to your heart. The best of all – if you have friends like mine, there will absolutely be no judgement, just lots of laughter and opportunities for inside jokes and “remember when you (insert verb).” These memories will also be something you can tell the kids one day – take note, I said one day – some of us will have to wait until they pass the R rated phase and are a little bit older and wiser.

        On a serious note though, these are the moments that count, that color your life in and make you say: “You know what, I am lucky. I have a beautiful life and I get to share it with beautiful people.”

        20150922_155741
          Photo by Marlè Visagie

          This brings me to my fifth reason:

          5. You Receive an Appreciation for Life

          Yes, you get to see new places, meet new people and learn new things. Yes, you get to make memories that will last you a lifetime and you get to make it with the friends of a lifetime – but that is not all: You get to chase the sunrises and sunsets which are a gift of everyday life. Do you remember the last time your mind was shushed by the artful sunrise or sunset of a new place? The last time you could felt a completely uninhibited breath of fresh air fill your lung?

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          Those artworks of Heaven that leave you breathless will give you a new sense of appreciation for all that this life offers and still has to offer. It will quiet you down and show you what really matters in this world – giving you a new sense of direction, a new vibrant vision and a passionately heart-pounding purpose.

          Just Breathe it in
            Photo by Bianca Gouws

            This is the playlist of your life – one with no stops, no pauses, no rewinds and no fast-forwards (no matter how much it often feels like it has) – we ought to ensure it is an epic one!

            Featured photo credit: tripoto via tripoto.com

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            Bianca Gouws

            Freelance Writer, Director and Actress

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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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