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9 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Life

9 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Life

Having enormous goals for your life is exhilarating, exciting… and at times, utterly terrifying. If you create daily habits to automate certain aspects of your life, however, you’ll create a sturdy foundation to take risks from. Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty, calls these habits “certainty anchors”. They add a sense of reliability to your day so no matter how many risks you take, your habits will always be there to depend on.

How to Develop Daily Habits

As tempting as it is to try and change more than one habit at a time to reach your goals more quickly, the opposite is true. Doing poorly with one habit will have a domino effect on the habits you’re doing well with. The house of cards will topple over and the level of discouragement you’ll feel will make it that much harder to get back on your feet.

Here’s the habit-building process that’s working for me:

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  • Focus on building one habit per month.
  • Don’t give yourself a deadline: Some daily habits will be easier to build than others, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to build the habit, as long as you build it.
  • Commit fully and don’t back down.
  • Go easy on yourself if you stumble. Instead of getting angry with yourself, use it as a learning experience. Figure out what caused you to stumble, deal with any external influences causing you problems, and try again.
  • Each time you hit a milestone—one week, one month, six months, etc.—reward yourself in some way. How is completely up to you.
  • Once you’re able to complete the habit without having to think about it, it’s time to move onto establishing your next habit.

Here are daily habits that will make an immediate difference in your lifestyle and help you reach your goals sans Xanax prescription:

1. Visualize

I used to find it hard to fall asleep until I began visualizing how I wanted the next day to go. Instead of my mind wandering from topic to topic, focusing on what “might” go wrong, I started focusing on what “would” go right. If you not only list in your mind what you’re going to do the next day but visualize yourself doing it, this matter-of-fact planning process helps keep uncertainty at bay (and the next day goes much smoother!).

2. Define Your Priorities

One of the big reasons why you’re not reaching your goals is likely to do with how much you have on your plate, professionally and personally. It’s likely you’re trying to do too many things at the same time. Ask yourself: what are your ultimate goals? Once you’ve defined them, drop everything that doesn’t cater to them. You can always come back to these things later, after you’ve established what’s most important to you.

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3. Get Up Earlier

I now get all of my important work done before everyone else is even awake—you would not believe the difference this makes! There’s no better feeling than knowing no matter what happens for the rest of the day, you’ve accomplished what you set out to. Bring on the interruptions and distractions; you’ll be armed and ready!

4. Create a Morning Routine

Wake up and do the same things in the same order before you start your day: have a glass of water, exercise, read, etc. Do things that you normally don’t have time for that make you happy. Easing into your day instead of rushing to get started not only depletes your stress level significantly, but puts you in a proactive frame of mind for the remainder of the day.

5. Drink Water

Having a glass of water first thing in the morning helps rid your body of toxins that have been stored overnight. Not only does it aid your digestive tract, it also boosts your metabolism, helping you feel energized sooner.

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6. Singletask

Only 2% of the world’s population can successfully multitask. The rest of us posers are serial-tasking: flitting from one task to another, nudging ourselves forward with each instead of focusing on one at a time. I broke this habit by choosing one item on my to-do list, then hiding it in a drawer until I was done. It’s a tough habit to break, but once you do your mind feels clearer, you feel less restless, and the quality of your work skyrockets across the board.

7. Go Minimal

External clutter leads to mental clutter. Do a clean sweep of your home and get rid of everything you no longer use or have never used. By the end of my own clean sweep last year, it looked like I’d been robbed! There’s no better feeling than knowing you actually need and use everything you’re surrounded by. Bonus: you also save time by not having as much to clean!

8. Set Online Boundaries

It’s too easy to get sucked into an online world of status updates, memes, list posts, and videos. Before you know it, over half your day is gone and you have nothing to show for it. This is especially difficult for those of us who work on the Internet. One of the best daily habits I’ve established is not checking my e-mail or social media accounts first thing in the morning. Create specific windows of time for your online tasks. It’s okay to check your e-mail periodically in case you receive urgent requests from your boss or co-workers, but if you check and there aren’t any, abort and get back to your day.

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9. Create an Evening Routine

Your evening routine is just as important as your morning routine, as it prepares your body for a solid night’s sleep. Create a relaxing routine that starts about an hour before you go to bed, and use it as your body’s “signal” that it’s time to go to sleep.

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Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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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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