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11 Things To Remember If Your Love Someone With ALS

11 Things To Remember If Your Love Someone With ALS

It is not easy to love someone who is sick; it is especially difficult when it comes to loving someone who has ALS.

ALS is a motor-neuron disease, commonly known in the USA as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It strikes certain cells in the spinal cord and brain, making it difficult or even impossible to move. It starts by making a patient generally weak, unable to lift things and walk and then talk and even swallow. The disease is mostly diagnosed among people of 50 years and older. But there are cases when young people or even children are diagnosed with a light form of ALS. True love is unconditional, but ALS tests everyone. Understanding how a person with ALS feels will help you deal with the hard mental and physical work it requires.

1. ALS is not a death sentence.

Although statistics are rather sad, there are people diagnosed with ALS who have managed to live to see their grandchildren. Take Stephen Hawking as the best example. The world’s smartest man was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21. Soon, he will be celebrating his 70th birthday. Being wheelchair-bounded, he helped to formulate ideas on quantum gravity and black holes. His books are bestsellers, and his life is a legend. Although he lost the ability to move or speak, he has been working as a professor at Cambridge for over 30 years and became director of research at the center of Theoretical Cosmology.

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THE HAWKING PARADOX

    2. It is not their fault.

    ALS can happen to anybody with no clearly associated risk factors. Only 10 percent of ALS cases are genetic or based on gene mutation. Most people die from respiratory failure caused by ALS approximately 3-5 years from the onset of symptoms. Nevertheless, there are those who manage to live 15 years or more.

    3. They need your help.

    No one can deny that people with ALS need help. It is going to take a lot of time and adjustment to learn how to help your friend with ALS. Be patient and listen very attentively to what they say or show you.

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    4. They can sometimes cry or laugh uncontrollably.

    People who have ALS can sometimes experience uncontrollable laughter or crying without feeling particularly happy or sad. This effect is mostly seen in people suffering from upper motor neuron disease. Although this has nothing to do with actual depression, it has been successfully cured with antidepressants.

    5. ALS doesn’t affect them mentally.

    They are the same people they used to be. Yes, they cannot walk, lift things, or in some cases even talk. But just because they have changed physically doesn’t mean that they have changed mentally. They are still your best friend, cousin, wife, or mother. Treat them the same way you used to.

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    11-things-to-remember-if-you-love-someone-with-ALS

      6. They can hear you well.

      The biggest stereotype for people with ALS is that they cannot hear you well. Motor-neuron disease does not affect hearing. Talking loud or screaming will not make them answer faster.

      7. They are smart.

      Those suffering from ALS are able to use their brain’s potential to the fullest. They can even concentrate on everything amazingly. They are big book warms and excellent scientists, businessmen, directors, and journalists.

      8. They can be sexually active.

      ALS does not affect sexuality. Sufferers can be sexually active and even have children. Stephen Hawking, for example, has three beautiful kids who don’t have their father’s disease. The only thing that can make sexual relationship difficult is difficulties with the respiratory system. Nevertheless, there are special positive pressure ventilation systems that can help.

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      Stephen-in-1983-with-his-children-Robert-Lucy-and-Timothy-and-his-wife-Jane-215093

        9. They have a good sense of humor.

        In order to survive through hard times, you have to have an excellent sense of humor. ALS patients can be extremely funny when you get to know them. If you want to help them and show your love, you need to make jokes and tell funny stories, and you will see that it works both ways. Our ALS hero Mr. Hawking is known throughout the world for his exquisite sense of humor.

        10. They can tell you more about life than you think.

        Spending time with people who have ALS is a great experience. These people are alone with their thoughts a great deal of the time, so when they finally talk, they surprise you with accuracy and wisdom. You cannot help but be inspired by people who have lost everything at one point and gained even more than we can imagine.

        11.   They can continue leading a normal life.  

        Although normal is an abstract word when it comes to ALS, it has been proven that people suffering from this disease can continue leading a normal life. They can work (if it doesn’t involve physical labor), they can communicate with friends, watch movies, enjoy entertainment, and even travel.

        Featured photo credit: Girl with Heart, by Dannie via picjumbo.com

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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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