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5 Self Defence Tips All Women Should Know

5 Self Defence Tips All Women Should Know

It’s a sad fact of the world we live in that women need to be more aware of self defense tactics than men. In a perfect world, articles like this one wouldn’t have to exists; and in a more fair world the title would be “5 Self Defence Tips All People Should Know” but the statistics show us that our world isn’t always fair. In 2005, 92% of all sexual assault victims in the United States were female according to the Women’s Self Defense Institute. More than one million women are stalked each year in the US compared to nearly 400,000 men. Obviously it makes sense for everyone to be aware of techniques they can use to stay safe when travelling alone at night, but due to the increased risk of attacks on females there is an even greater need for women to be alert and informed. With that in mind, let’s get into the list:

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    1. Use Your Senses

    The best way to stay safe is to avoid a confrontation altogether. Criminals do not see all people as equally likely targets, they identify those who will give them the least trouble and the best chance to escape. Consequently, your best self defence strategy is to not be an easy target. Walk tall with good posture and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones, your ears are a valuable resource in knowing what is going on around you especially after dark. Keep your head up and watch where you are going. The sooner you can react to a potential situation the better off you will be.

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      2. Dress for Success

      If you plan on walking home alone or expect to be in some other similarly risky situation, wear clothing that will allow you full mobility. Stash a pair of running shoes at a friend’s house, in someone’s car, or carry them with you. Avoid tight fitting clothes that will restrict your movement. Part of avoiding a confrontation might be the ability to run away from a potential threat, and you don’t want heels and a skirt to get in your way.

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        3. Stay Visible

        Be conscious of the route you choose to get home. If there are busier streets with better lighting that add ten minutes to your walk but will keep you safe, take them. Criminals tend to stick to areas where there are fewer people for a reason and it pays to avoid them. Also, be aware of how you are walking. Take a wide path around corners to avoid being surprised.

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          4. Have a Toolkit

          Carry items that will help you out if you end up in a bad situation. At the very least, a whistle will alert other people around you that something is wrong and at best it may scare away any potential attacker. Also consider carrying weapon, but be aware of the fact that any weapon you carry has the potential to be used against you. If you live in a place that allows them, personal pepper spray canisters are a great option. Just make sure you know how to use them. A well placed shot of pepper spray in the face of an attacker can give you the time you need to get away.

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            5. Know How to Fight Back

            When prevention and your toolkit fail you, be prepared and know how to fight back. There is also no such thing as fighting dirty when your safety is on the line. Direct any punches you throw at your attackers face. If they come at you with their hands outstretched grab a thumb for finger and bend it like a Christmas wishbone. If they get closer than that, grab their shoulders and hit them in the groin with your knee as hard as you can. Other sensitive areas are the shin and the eyes. Focusing in the right targets and landing one good shot can give you the window you need to get to safety. Look into taking a self defence class offered in your area.

            Featured photo credit: PictureYouth 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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