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3 Photo Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day That Your Spouse Will Love

3 Photo Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day That Your Spouse Will Love

Looking for a gift idea for your spouse this Valentine’s Day? The traditional gift of chocolates and dinner is nice but I think it’s part of why so many people want to avoid the holiday—it just seems boring and expected. Put some meaning into your Valentine surprise with these photo gift ideas.

the giving of love is education

    Capture The Year In Memories

    Put together a collage of photos from the most recent year you’ve been together, and include photos from trips, with friends, family, and all your favorites. Use iPhoto, Picassa or one of the many other programs to make the collage look nice and not overly cluttered.

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    Save the collage as a .jpg or .png picture file and print it at Costco as a 16×20 print for about $6 (or wherever else you like). You will need a frame unless you choose to print it on posterboard for about $15 (no frame needed)

    This is a fabulous gift to put together every year and hang in a special place in your house. Note—you may want an extra copy of the picture to take to work too! This photo gift is a great memento of your life together that you could see and enjoy every day, filled with the moments that make you both happy.

    I’ve been putting one of these together as a gift for my husband for 5 years now, and it’s just about time to make the 6th. We enjoy it and the kids do too. The photos are hung on the walls beside the staircase so we pass them often, and the first year I gave the gift to him we both purchased extras to keep at work as well.

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    Give Your Spouse a Pick-Me-Up

    Sometimes we could use a great memory to bring us out of a funk, and this photo gift aims to provide just that spark. Match photos to a phrase or emotion that would make your spouse happy, so when your spouse is feeling down he/she can bring out the photos and pick one based on the emotion or phrase that interests them.

    The photo should be of you: either of the two of you together, or possibly a few of your whole family.  Sometimes all we need to improve our day is a great memory to focus on, and photos do a wonderful job of making that memory real to us again.

    The great part of this gift is that it can be used again and again. I was inspired to use photos for this gift idea as they are very visual and say a lot without the need for words. Several years ago, I put together a jar of love quotes written on small pieces of paper for my husband—he keeps it next to his computer, and chose to put a picture of me inside the jar. He still reads the quotes in the jar to this day as a pick-me-up whenever it’s needed.

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    How to create this photo gift:

    1. Choose 10 or more phrases, emotions or such that you want to use for this gift. Suggestions are: love, lust, joy, wonder, happiness, inspiration, and unique phrases between the two of you.
    2. Pick out 10 or more pictures: 1 that represents or evokes the feeling of each of the phrases or emotions.
    3. Next, print the pictures on photo paper in a small size, such as 2″ x 2″ . I would suggest putting all the photos on 1 page using collage software or in a word doc and then printing to avoid printing a whole sheet of paper for each separate photo.
    4. Fold the paper into quarters.
    5. Write the name of the appropriate phrase or emotion with a sharpie.
    6. Place the photos in a nice box or jar. Add pretty wrapping if you like.

    *You could do this with larger prints and envelopes as well.

    Have a Photo Re-created

    Amazing things can be done with photos these days, so consider choosing a photo that your spouse loves and having it made into a painting. You can have this done for $5 on Fiverr.com. Use a high-quality photo, and when you receive the final product, use it to create a larger print that you can frame and use as a photo gift.

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    These gift options will bring more love and happiness to your Valentine’s Day celebration, as a thoughtful gift is so much better than the last box of chocolates on the shelf, picked up on the way home. These ideas can each be put together within an hour or so, and will be enjoyed for years to come.

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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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