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10 Ways Journaling Can Improve Your Life

10 Ways Journaling Can Improve Your Life

Journaling on a regular basis provides many benefits. Check out the top reasons why you should start journaling right away.

1. Journaling Helps You Reflect on Your Life

Life moves quickly. Journaling offers an opportunity to stop and reflect on everything in life. Reflecting can help ensure you’re doing what you need to do to stay satisfied with your life.

2. Journaling Encourages Gratitude

Use a journal to keep track of everything you’re thankful for each day. Making this a regular habit can help you to become more optimistic and can remind you to enjoy the little things in life each day.

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3. Journaling Helps You Turn Dreams into Goals

When you start writing down your dreams, you’re more likely to establish a timeline of how to accomplish them. As soon as you establish a timeline and the steps you’re going to start taking, you’ve turned a dream into a goal. You’re much more likely to reach those dreams once you begin writing down action steps of what you’re going to do.

4. Journaling Allow You to Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

Writing down your accomplishments help you keep track of the success you’ve had in life. Reviewing a list of accomplishments can be very helpful when you are considering whether or not to take another risk. Remembering all those times when you’re hard work has paid off can give you the extra push you need to ask your boss for a raise or ask someone out on a date.

5. Journaling Provides an Emotional Outlet

A lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings out loud. Journaling can provide an emotional outlet. Labelling feelings and writing down how you feel without the fear of being judged by others can be very therapeutic.

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6. Journaling Increases Problem-Solving Opportunities

Journaling helps you analyze your options when you’re looking for a solution to a problem. You can write down the pros and cons of each solution and really analyze which solution is likely to yield the best results. It can help you identify creative ways to solve problems and it can help you to feel more confident about your choices.

7. Journaling Reduces Stress

Journaling can help you reduce mental clutter and stress. Instead of feeling like you need to keep track of everything in your head, simply knowing that you’ll be journaling later can free up your mental energy to address other tasks.

Knowing you can write down your worries can also help reduce your anxiety. Rather than waste time during the other parts of the day worrying about something, remind yourself you’re journal about it later.

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8. Journaling Will Let You Understand Yourself Better

Writing things down about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings can help you develop a much better understanding of yourself. Putting the pen to paper about what’s going on in your mind really helps lay out information about you.

Reading past entries can be helpful as well. It can provide you with a better understanding of how you were feeling when you made certain decisions in your life. You may understand why you made mistakes or avoided risks. It serves as a good reminder of how much progress you’ve made.

9. Journaling Helps You Live According to Your Values

Writing about your daily activities can really give you insight into where your time goes. If you say family is important but you notice you’re working much more than your participating in family activities, it can be an eye opening experience. A journal can keep you honest and can help you make changes to your life that are more in line with your value system.

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10. Journaling Improves Your Relationships

Writing in a journal can be good for your relationships. Writing down angry thoughts instead of saying them out loud can prevent you from saying something you regret. Journaling can also help you look at the big picture, which can allow you to forgive and let small transgressions go.

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Amy Morin

A psychotherapist, psychology instructor, keynote speaker, and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

How to Think Positive Thoughts When Feeling Negative 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do 10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong 12 Ways To Improve Social Skills And Make You Sociable Anytime 6 Mistakes That Keep You Struggling in Life And Stuck

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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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