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Get To A Healthier You!

Get To A Healthier You!

What does it take for us to get to the point where we finally say “I need to make a dramatic change to improve my health.”?

It’s not easy for us to admit that we’ve been winging it health-wise. We get busy, lazy, and easily distracted and ignore the fact that we need to make a desperate change for the better. We become submissive to our willpower, succumb to temptations, and end up eating what we shouldn’t, then we overindulge and delve into laziness! Simply because we have no plan of action to get us started or to keep us going.

Have you ever tried to start a self-care regime but then ended it quickly because you let daily stresses and bad habits take over? I know how it is to think “I will get started on taking care of myself tomorrow… or next week… because right now I am going to eat this donut!”

As a procrastinator myself, I know that what actually happens is that next week comes around and I’ve not even begun to get started, because getting fast food on the run and being a couch potato is much easier. And it’s all because we haven’t yet readied our mindset to begin a better way of existing.

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For many people, taking care of themselves is time consuming. It is way too easy to abuse eating the right way. Taking vitamins is just one more thing to do and exercising is hard to fit into our busy lives. Sound familiar?

Trust me, I’ve been there, I am there, and I get it!

So, If you are one of the many people stuck in a bad cycle of abusing your health, what do you do? How do you break the bad cycle and where do you begin to make it better? I want to help you to have a place to start, with a plan that you can stick with and to be able to fall back on if or when the bad habits set back in.

I’m not going to bore you with all of the technical and physical reasons of why you should eat better, exercise, and drink 8 glasses of water a day, so on and so forth, because you already know that! Right? You’ve already heard it and read about it over and over!

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I would, however, like to motivate you to start your new self-care habits by helping you to make a plan ahead of time. That way, you can be on your way to starting a life-long habit of extreme self care!

Examining The Who, What, When, Where, How, And Why To Getting To A Healthier You!

This is the beginnings of setting a goal for yourself. Genuinely answer the question “Why” you want this change to take place. Write down your answers and refer back to it when you need to. We all have different reasons to want better health.

Do you want to get better health because you are packing on a few extra pounds, or maybe you a have been getting out of breath when you walk a significant distance? Or perhaps you simply want to turn back a few years to feel younger and more vibrant? For me, my reason is for my first grandchild who is on his way. I want to embrace this well-awaited journey with health, balance, and a lot of energy — plus to not look and feel like a grandma.

We all have different reasons for wanting better health. You may have one particular reason or a whole list. Remember, it is not always about weight, though that is possibly a good part of it, along with exercising, stretching, and finding time to relax with some well-needed R&R!

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A healthier way of living is an ongoing need for every one of us. It is simply feeling better health-wise and being mindful of how you treat yourself! It is about having more energy, or possibly conquering depression or anxiety. It is about living a higher quality of life for yourself and for those who love you.

Get Started By Asking Yourself These Six Questions

Write your answers down (some examples are included). Personally, I like to make notes of things like this in my cell phone.

  1. WHO?: Who do I want to have support me during this transitional change? Or, would I rather keep this journey to myself and do it on my own? Another “Who” question could be “Who am I doing this for?” (i.e. my first grandchild on the way.)
  2. WHAT?: What do I need to have on hand to help me in this process?(i.e. fruit, blender, yoga mat and yoga DVD, etc.)
  3. WHEN?: When do I plan to start this? (i.e. I will start on my next day off as to get started without stress and distractions.)
  4. WHERE?: Where do I see my self a few months from now? (i.e. balanced, rested, thinner, and stronger.)
  5. HOW?: How will I go about this transition? (i.e. I will change my eating habits to the following… I will make my exercise habits as the following… I will balance my inner self by…)
  6. WHY?: Why am I doing this? (i.e. I want to feel fit like I was in my younger years, healthier, more energized, able to keep up with demands and stresses.)

Notes:

  • Your answers may not be as condensed as my general examples above.
  • We all have different answers to these questions.
  • We all have different reasons for wanting to become healthier.
  • Your answers and reasons may change in the future!

Also:

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If, or when you get off track health-wise, refer back to these six questions and answers to get yourself started once again.

Get started A.S.A.P. without procrastinating! Go to the grocery store to get what you need. If you have decided to, get support from your family and let them know you have a change in the process. Plus, tell them not to judge or criticize you! Make your plans and get excited about it!

Remember to consult with your physician if you deem it necessary. Most importantly, let your reason “why” drive you through!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via yourlifefully.com

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Lorrie Ober

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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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