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How to Have the Best Spring With Your Pets

How to Have the Best Spring With Your Pets

Spring will soon dawn upon us. We will enter the next phase in the circle of life and leap into the new year. Each season represents a new state of being: spring means growth and prosperity; summer means to live, laugh, and breathe; autumn means to endure and reflect; winter means to be patient and move forward.

As excited as we are for the change in seasons, so are our pets. Finally, they get to run around in the yard or the park without having to worry about the cold or slipping on ice. Any day now, they’ll be able to park themselves in the backyard and snooze in the warmth of the sun. It’s a perfect setting for all pets, from guinea pigs to large dogs!

So how can you make this time of year the best spring for your pets and how can you have the best spring with your pets? If you are bored of the same routine of going on walks or runs with your pets and hope to plan for something more exciting and fun to do with your best pet friend, look no further. Here are a few tips you can use to spice things up with your pet friend(s) this spring:

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1. Have a Picnic in a New Spot

Picnics are a common activity that we all do during the spring while taking advantage of the warm sunshine and the fresh new blooms. The liveliness of spring is contagious for all. Most of the time, we prefer going to the nearest park or recreational area that is right around the corner from where we live to indulge in sunny weather and picnic behavior. Therefore, the act itself can become pretty repetitive and eventually get boring. If spring is all about growth and progress, why not change your scenery?

Take your picnic lunch, your pets, and head somewhere close to the countryside. Enjoy a day there and allow your pets to explore the nature based on their own instincts. While cats prefer being indoors, dogs love the outdoor sun. Surprisingly, time spent outside could still be beneficial to them both. Case in point, being able to breath fresh outside air might be perfect for your feline friend and running around the land to explore the new scenery might increase your dog’s dopamine levels and keep them healthier and happier, a benefit to them both.

Plus, constantly keeping them active and energized reduces their chance of mortality and increases their metabolism and keeps your dogs nice and fit.

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2. Pick an Endurance Activity

Humans and animals have various similarities. We are all born very intuitive, however, as humans, we prefer logic over intuition. We are also gifted with a great passion for succeeding. This, among other reasons, is why we bond closely to our pets and why we sometimes sense they relate to us. It’s an incredibly unique feeling and one that lends itself to our shared enjoyment of endurance sports. Who better to experience endurance sports with than your pets?

Go for a hike or a slow bike ride. Hiking is usually the best because your pets can exercise their animal instincts unhinged while you guide them.[1] Of course, you will not be speaking the same language, but you will be connecting on a different level, a connection purely based on emotion and understanding.

Some might argue that these activities are not for all pets, however, as long as you’re not trying to take a pet snake up a mountain or swim with a leash on your goldfish, then you’re fine. Typical house pets, such as cats and dogs, are ordinarily used to the wild because they are born hunters. Thus, this trip will challenge their senses while being physically and mentally stimulating for them.

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3. Go on a Camping Trip

Camping is fun and is an exciting way that we get back to the basics. Although camping has now taken a bit of a modern twist to fit our standards and lifestyle, it’s always best to return to the bare necessities when possible, enjoying your time without the internet and fully embracing nature. A camping trip is always fun when there’s a large group of people or, in our case, a large number of pets.

Some might find this intimidating. However, if your pets are well-trained, then you can definitely have tons of fun exploring and having adventures with them. This will also allow your pets to bond with you and your friends, for them to identify their scent and feel comfortable. For animals, sometimes it’s harder to adapt compared to humans, so a group activity allows your pets to bond with you in their presence.

Remember for you pets, no one else matters but you.

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4. Have a Family Cookout Session

Spring is the perfect time for outdoor grilling. It’s the perfect time to have all your family members together and for a family with a new addition at home (a new pet or a new baby). It’s also a great time to induce the bonding session between all involved. Food brings us together, no matter the species, so spring and a cookout are the perfect way to bring a family closer together.

If you have a new baby, allow your pet to be close to him or her and to get a sense of feeling protective. Give your baby the time to touch, feel, and start accepting the baby as its company. Pets usually reduce the stress of a new parent by 20%, as they help keep the baby company and help reduce how much they cry.

On the other hand, if you have a new pet that’s joining your family, it will be the perfect time to let the pet bond with everyone in the family, especially if that pet has been adopted. They’re probably much more cautious and afraid of strangers so having a social gathering allows them to retreat when they need to, but also gives them the comfort of being part of the family.

Sometimes, just like humans, our pets need the sense of assurance too. To feel at home, to be loved, to have fun, and to create memories. They dream just as we do, so it is our job to ensure they’re having the best dreams.

Featured photo credit: Google Images via itsaheartfullife.com

Reference

[1] Online Casino Reports: Animal Instinct

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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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