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16 Ways To Grow Mentally And Physically

16 Ways To Grow Mentally And Physically

Think about it: have you been truly improving yourself?

Life can get so busy and hectic that we just let the days fly by. We forget to always grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In simple terms, we forget to always make ourselves better.

That’s not to say that you aren’t amazing just the way you are, but personal development and growth are both crucial if you want to maintain happiness, motivation, and peace of mind.

These 16 easy habits can help you cover all the self-improvement bases, so that you can make each and every day a stepping stone to the “you” you’ve always imagined!

Enrich Your Mind

1. “Eat the frog”

No, not literally. Please don’t do that.

The phrase “eat the frog” means to get the hardest task on your to-do list done and over with, ASAP. Solve a challenging problem early in the day, so it’s not weighing you down the whole day. Whether it’s getting a big work project done or calling your scary mother-in-law, just grit your teeth and get it done early. You’ll thank yourself later!

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2. Start developing that skill you’ve always wanted

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Get moving on it! There’s no better time than now, especially if it’s a new skill that you’ve always fancied.

Want to learn a new language? Buy a language program or hire a tutor. Want to be a proficient flutist? Buy that flute and take that class already. It’s worth it if it’s something that will improve your mind in a way you’ve always dreamed of.

3. Make a deal with your friends

Money too tight to buy that expensive flute or take a class? Talk to your friends. Your friends have all sorts of talents and knowledge that you may not possess – and you have talents of your own. Make a deal with a friend to teach each other your respective talents. It’s the most cost-efficient—and perhaps most entertaining—way to enrich your mind.

4. Read, read, read!

Ask all of my friends what my biggest obsession is, and they’ll likely say books. And they’d be right. My room is full-to-bursting with stacks of books. Why, you may ask? Oh, let me enlighten you. (Prepare for some serious gushing here.)

Even if they’re pure fiction, books can teach you so much. They open up your mind to different possibilities, different situations you may never experience, and different ways of thinking.

Not sure where to start? Use Goodreads, which can give you customized recommendations based on your interests. To purchase books cheaply (I’m talking two or three bucks here, with no shipping fees for those in the United States), use Thriftbooks.com.

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Nourish Your Body

1. Do a little resistance exercise

No, this doesn’t mean resisting exercise. Resistance exercise is essentially anything that causes your muscles to contract against external forces, like weights, bands, or your own body weight. Instead of beelining for the elliptical or the treadmill at the gym, try incorporating some weight training or body weight exercises. (Squats are a great place to start!)

2. Replace unhealthy foods with your favorite fruits and veggies

This may seem lecture-y, but that doesn’t make it any less truthful: that bag of Doritos is doing your body absolutely no good. Think of it this way: the food you eat is either healing or harming your body. Eat your favorite fruits and veggies on the regular, and you’ll most certainly be more on the healing end.

3. Take a class

Sometimes, being in a class with an instructor and other like-minded people does wonders for your motivation. Get a friend to join you in a class so you don’t feel tempted to skip, and try taking a spin class, or maybe a Zumba class, if you love to dance.

4. Hydrate!

It can be difficult to remember to drink enough water, especially when the option of soda or juice is present. However, it’s incredibly important to keep yourself hydrated. Carry around a water bottle with you and fill it on the regular. You’ll notice improvements in your skin, energy levels, and overall physique.

Cultivate True Happiness

1. Encourage others

It feels good to make someone happy, especially if it’s someone you care about. Plus, happiness is contagious.

Express your appreciation to those around you. Let someone know that they’re doing a good job, and you’ll both feel a lovely mood boost.

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2. Smile

No, seriously. Smiling has numerous health benefits, and it can release endorphins, which can make you happier. Even if you force a smile for a period of time, you’ll start to feel it. Next time negative feelings are trying to take control of you, just combat them with a smile.

3. Or better yet, laugh

You know how great it feels after a good belly laugh? That’s because of those lovely endorphins I just mentioned. Make it your goal to have a good laugh at least once every day, even if you do that by watching your favorite stand-up or forcing a laugh.

4. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good

Start to notice how you feel after interacting with the people you’re close to. Do you have any friends who drain you? Who are constantly negative? Or even worse—who subtly try to tear you down and sabotage your efforts?

You can’t feel truly happy if you surround yourself with negative people. Try to spend your time with people who encourage you and inspire you. You deserve that.

Grow Spiritually

1. Set goals for yourself

And I don’t mean big career goals (although those are good, too). Start your day by thinking about one good thing you can do for the day, whether it’s something that will make you happier or make someone else happier. Set goals for your spiritual growth.

2. Practice gratitude every day

There will always be things in life that we want, but don’t have. It’s important to focus on your life goals, but there’s no point in sulking. Remember: there is always someone who is happier with less than what you have.

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By practicing gratitude, you are focusing on the things you do have, which will help you value your life and your choices. At the end your day, write down one thing you were thankful for that happened that day. Focus on the positives, and you’ll grow spiritually.

3. Give yoga a try

I love yoga. I am terrible at it right now, because I’m still a beginner, but I absolutely love it. It’s not only good for you, but it helps you truly clear your mind and become aware of your body. Even the most simple and straightforward poses have this effect.

Start your day with yoga, and you will absolutely not regret it.

4. Keep it all in perspective

Life has its nuisances, its issues, and its sorrows that can feel all-encompassing and overwhelming at the time. It can be difficult to look past these things and see the big picture, but remind yourself that these problems will not matter to you in a year, let alone at the end of your life.

You only have one life. Make it count.

Featured photo credit: mynameisrebecca via flickr.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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