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21 Things You Should Start Making Time For

21 Things You Should Start Making Time For

You wonder where time goes. It’s easy to think that “tomorrow” will be a better day to do things that will lead to a better life. Somehow there will be more money, a better relationship, a move, and only then will you have the time to stop and smell the roses.

Here are some things that you should start making time for. And little by little, you will see that by doing so, your life is richer, and your relationships, both with yourself and others, improve.

1. Take better care of yourself.

Start with the little things. Get a haircut before you really need one. Go to sleep a little earlier. Eat your veggies. Pick one thing at a time, like drinking more water one week, and the next have an extra fruit for breakfast.

2. Indulge in passions and hobbies.

Do what you love, even if it’s just checking out a website about a passion or hobby. Go to a specialty shop during your lunch break or on your way home from work one day just to look around.

3. Initiate long and intimate conversations with loved ones.

Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, go ahead and start a deeper conversation with a loved ones, even if you’re in the middle of the kitchen. Don’t wait for them to be the one to start; make time to go for it in the moment. It will feel awesome.

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4. Listen to others without judgment.

This takes intention rather than a lot of time. Next time someone that you usually pass judgment on or have expectations of speaks, just take the time to listen instead of speaking.

5. Read great books.

It may seem like it’s going to leave you with less time to read through the latest gossip magazine or website, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fit in reading a classic piece of literature. Check one out and leave it on your counter top or bedside table for a few nights.

6. Write things by hand.

Instead of sending an email to a co-worker, boss, employee, child or partner, write a handwritten note. It takes a short amount of time and the intimacy of a handwritten note is valued in this time-crunched life.

7. Sing.

Your thoughts keep you really busy while driving, walking, doing handiwork or housework. Raising your voice in song slows down time a little bit and gets your physical body moving in a different way. It’s joyful and energizes you, so take the time to do it even if you’re no American Idol.

8. Take a train somewhere.

If you ride the subway to work, skip this one! Otherwise, taking a train on a short little excursion is relaxing, meditative and gives you a break that’s a bit different than your regular day. You can take kids, a partner or friend and make it fun.

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9. Celebrate.

Stop and celebrate silly things other than birthdays and anniversaries. Find a reason to buy balloons and a cake and invite some friends to celebrate a little milestone in your life.

10. Just sit and listen to music.

Listen to music without multitasking. Sit and put on some music that you enjoy, perhaps the type of music you don’t usually listen to. Try some violin music, something in another language, or music the teens are listening to. Ask your parents what their favorite music was as teens and sit and listen to that!

11. Putting personal health first.

For some reason we get busy and don’t make the time at the top of the list to put our health first. Take the time to do this. What do you need for your health? Write it on a list at the top and post it.

12. Love.

Take the time for love. Sometimes, we take the people we love for granted. Look around at the people in your life and show them that you love them. Or take the time to tell them in a longer way that you may usually do. Describe what you love about them.

13. Make an animal friend.

Adopt a pet. If you cannot, visit a zoo, an animal shelter or a friend with a pet and make the time to spend with them. An animal can give you a feeling of calm that you cannot get anywhere else.

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14. Paint something.

You don’t have to paint a room or be Picasso. Just go into the local arts and crafts shop and get some basic acrylic paints, some brushes and a canvas. You don’t have to be artistic to dip a brush into some colors and spread it on the canvas. It’s worth the time it takes and is loads of fun and relaxing.

15. Record a video.

Use your phone, your computer or a friend’s and talk about your life into a video. Years later you will be glad you did. You can keep this just for yourself or share it with others. It’s worth the few minuets it takes now to watch yourself on camera.

16. Movement.

Take the time to move your body. It doesn’t have to be a full exercise regimen. Just put on some music and move around. Move your elbows, your fingers, your knees and ankles. Every part of you that can move, move it! It heals the mind and the body when you take the time your physical body needs in movement.

17. Write your own bucket list.

Do you have a list of things to do before you die? It’s a great thing to take the time to do. You are more likely to do the things you want to do if it’s written down.

18. Deep breathing.

Take the time daily to pause and take a few deep breaths. It fills your lungs with oxygen and relaxes you. Sometimes we go on, racing around and barely breathe.

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19. Look into your eyes in the mirror.

Stop in front of the mirror every day for an extra 3 seconds, lock eyes with yourself and say, “I love you” to yourself. This is an exercise Louise Hay speaks of that helped her heal her life.

20. Tech-free time.

Taking tech free time, even if only for an hour a day frees your mind and helps you realize that you can have ‘time off’ every day. Try it and see how it feels. You may want more than an hour. Perhaps a half day once a week.

21. Sit in nature.

All the great artists, writers and creatives speak of how sitting or walking in nature daily for a short time has been the key to their success. No matter the weather, make time for this one daily even just for a few moments.

This may seem like a long list, yet if you pick a few that you know won’t take much time and go for it, your life energy will shift. You get so busy, and there seems to be this big rush to the finish line. Just remember that on the way to the finish line there is a beautiful view.

Don’t miss it.

Featured photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsallaboutmich via flickr.com

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Esther Litchfield-Fink

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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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