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10 Things To Remember When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom

10 Things To Remember When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom

“Never be afraid to fall apart. It presents an opportunity to rebuild yourself the way you wish you had been all along” – Rae Smith.

Extremely fortunate and incredibly rare is a person who never stumbles in life. Life can often be monotonous with little fluctuation and many of us get used to that. But what really challenges us mentally, emotionally and physically, are the few times we hit those massive, dramatic roadblocks – be it health problems, financial hardships or the loss of a loved one.

These situations can make us feel dark, hopeless and stuck, like we’ve just hit rock bottom. But rest assured, it is possible to revive ourselves and rejoice once more as a brighter, better person. Here are some tips to help make that happen.

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1. Let yourself feel

Too often we feel the urge to ‘distract ourselves’ or ‘get on with things’ when we are feeling low, but what we really need is to let emotions pass through us in order to process them effectively. Be it anger, frustration, grief or disappointment, it is important to be able to identify what we are feeling so we can let go of them. Once we release them, we can understand ourselves at a deeper level, and better deal with similar situations in the future.

2. Take the time to reflect

Indeed, the art to all change is reflection. Giving yourself the time to understand what the situation means to you, how it has affected you and if applicable, how you could have handled it better will help ease your mind and help lighten your heart. Lessons learnt during difficult times will be the strongest and longest lasting.

3. Have faith

Sometimes the simple act of having faith that good will follow the bad, is enough to ease distress. Believing in something bigger than us – whatever that may be – God, fate or destiny, will allow us to surrender the situation and work through it diligently.

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4. Be self-compassionate

The only way we can learn to pick ourselves up is by loving ourselves. Use your downfall as an opportunity to nurture yourself with softness and care. Take baths, take strolls and explore the world. You will find that with time, you will have built the emotional capacity to uplift yourself no matter what the circumstance

5. Engage in creative outlet

Make art, write poetry and create music. Engaging in creativity helps channel negativity into light and transform destructive emotions into joy.

6. Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature helps us connect to purity and our true essence. Notice the beauty around you and realize it’s still there. Take a walk to a pool of water and nourish yourself in the sight, you’ll notice that you’ve instilled calmness inside you and have a clarity of thought that didn’t exist before.

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7. Listen to Music

Much music is written from sincere passion and strong emotion. Listening to a variety of different music helps motivate us, stimulate our creativity, and connect across time and space with those who have been driven to create.

8. Try new things

Experiment with new hobbies, cultivate new interests and engage with new people. Read. A lot. Exposing yourself to different viewpoints will help you find yourself, and remember that every new thing you encounter has the difference to change your life.

9. Surround yourself with the right people

Spend time with people who uplift you. Words of encouragement and self-belief from trusted friends are important in times of difficulty. Temporarily avoid anyone who is negative or anybody who is emotionally entangled with your situation – this will prevent you from taking the break you need to process things and develop yourself.

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10. Believe in miracles

Believe that amazing things happen. Believe that miracles are true. Break out of any internal monologue that tells you that things will never get better. Realise that the world is a fascinating place. Things can turn around quicker than you think, if you believe they can.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanaceck via picjumbo.com

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Vijaytha Murali

Doctor, United Kingdom

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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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