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15 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying

15 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying

So, you just found out some rather devastating news. You’re not sure how to handle it, and you can’t seem to stop worrying. Maybe it isn’t actually one thing in particular; you’re just always on edge about something, and you want to stop. It’s okay. Your life is more in control than you think, and these steps can help you feel more like it.

1. Get busy.

There may not be much you can do about the impending situation, so it’s good to get busy with things that you can affect. There’s no time to shut down now. You can solve other problems even if you can’t solve this one. Being productive in general can also help inspire you to tackle that original problem.

2. (Prepare for the worst, but) hope for the best.

You’re not going to go into the future unprepared for possible negativity. You’re just hoping it works out better than expected. This means taking the steps to guard against future problems, but accepting that not all of them will come up. Things could easily take a turn for the better, and you’re open to that.

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3. Distract yourself with something good and inspiring.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the problem. This means to give yourself a break and go do something positive for yourself. Read something motivational. Go for a brisk walk by the lake. Log another half hour at the gym. Whatever it is, make sure you’re doing it for you.

4. Get support.

Chances are you aren’t in this alone. Call your friends and family, or better yet, meet up with them for a relaxing dinner. When the time is right, confide in them what you are going through, and see if they might be able to help you get through it. If nothing else, they will be able to offer you emotional support. If worrying becomes a bigger issue than your typical confidants can handle, you might need to consider speaking with someone who deals with this as a profession. There are many therapists who specialize in this, and they may be able to help you.

5. Practice relaxing.

This may seem counterintuitive after step number one, but it’s also true. You need to have a good balance of productivity and leisure. Life will be there when you’re done relaxing, so for now, you’re just going to take it easy for a bit. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, it may be time to practice. Search for some local recreational events in your area, or browse the channels on television for some stress-free programming. The activity itself doesn’t matter. It may not even need to be an activity; you can just sit down and meditate for a bit, and it will help you relax.

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6. Count your blessings.

Sometimes worrying is actually a perspective issue. Take some time to count your blessings. Perhaps put a pen and paper in front of you, and list off everything in your life for which you are thankful. Consider the privileges and advantages that come simply with being you. Better yet, express your appreciation for those blessings by communicating with others. Whatever you do, remember that you have a lot going for you.

7. Monitor your thoughts.

Worrying can be due to intrusive and disruptive thought patterns. You are what you think. It can be difficult to change those patterns, but it’s worth attempting. Focus more on the positive aspects of your life. Take pride in your accomplishments, and spend a little extra time feeling good about yourself for them. Look for the silver lining in everything, because it’s often there.

8. Identify your worries.

This may be uncomfortable for some, but for others, it’s a good way to deal with stress. Grab that pen and paper again; this time you’re going to write down, in as much detail as possible, exactly what you are worried about and why. You are almost guaranteed to get some insight by doing this. Your problems might just be smaller than you thought they were. If nothing else, you know specifically what you’re dealing with, and can start to figure out how to overcome those issues.

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9. Differentiate between productive and unproductive worries.

Take the list you made in step eight, and consider crossing off the ones over which you have no control. If you can’t alter the outcome of those situations, why bother worrying about them? There is no solution for them, and in all likelihood, those worries are probably rather vague. Forget about them. On the other hand, realize that some worries are productive, because you can do something to overcome them.

10. Accept your own limitations.

We are all good at some things and bad at others. Those specific things are different for every person. If your worry is related to something you aren’t particularly good at, then that’s okay. You live in a society with plenty of other people who happen to be good at it! You may not be a great mechanic, but even if your car breaks down, you can always take it in to the shop.

11. Get out of your comfort zone.

Many people stay here because they worry about what will happen if they do something uncomfortable. You’d be surprised how much less stressful your life might be if you got out of your comfort zone once in a while. Once you accomplish some things you don’t want to do, you won’t have to worry about being able to handle them.

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12. Schedule your worrying.

It might sound a bit silly, but mentally allowing yourself a set time to worry can actually help you concentrate on other things throughout the day. Even better, try to redefine this scheduled time as a point in the day to evaluate your obligations and figure out how to tackle them. Focus on solutions to your problems, not the problems themselves.

13. Allow yourself to be imperfect.

This is important whether you tend to worry or not, but is especially important for those who worry about their own shortcomings. You are not a perfect person, and that’s completely okay. You may have had an extra brownie after dinner, or you may not have been able to pinch every penny, or maybe you just can’t quite get your hair to sit right. That’s alright. Everyone else has their own issues like this, so cut yourself some slack.

14. Be happy before you finish your to-do list.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: you’ll be able to breathe once you just finish everything. Try your best to avoid this pattern of thinking. Notice your productivity levels. You’re getting stuff done, and that’s reason enough to be happy. You’re doing work. You are having a successful day. The fact that it isn’t done yet means nothing.

15. Realize that you are your own worst critic.

Stop worrying about what other people might think about you. Chances are, they don’t think anything. It’s nothing personal; it’s just a fact. People have their own problems and are much too preoccupied to care about whether you’re having a bad hair day, or if you’re using food stamps at the grocery store. It may seem a bit dark, but it’s actually quite liberating once you realize this. Only a certain handful of people truly have a meaningful opinion of you. The rest are just trying to live their own lives… and now you’re free to live yours.

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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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