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7 Things That Stress You Out That You Should Ignore

7 Things That Stress You Out That You Should Ignore

Life is hard enough without letting things – especially things that other people do or say – stress you out even more. Some stress in life is good, I think. I mean, without feeling a little stress to perform, would you always do as well as you could at your job? Without a little competitive stress, you might not try to win, or at least do well, in a race. A little stress about your mother-in-law coming over gets you off the couch and cleaning a bit before she shows up.

On the other hand, too much stress can have negative health benefits, increase your anxiety and make you feel bad about yourself. While a little stress is good, take the opportunity to eliminate – or just plain, old ignore, other stressful things in your life, like these:

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Ignore Blatant Negativity

Whether it’s from someone else, or you are creating it yourself, blatant negativity should be avoided at all costs. People who always have something bad to say can really bring you down and stress you out. I recently started a farmers’ market in my little town. It’s been going really well, even though the weather hasn’t always been ideal. Living near the ocean, it gets windy, rainy and just plain ugly some days. There is a woman who is a vendor at the market that always makes a point of complaining to me about the weather and indicating that she thinks I should be able to do something about it. As the newbie in town, this really bothered me for the first few markets, until I realized that this particularly negative person would complain about any weather — or anything else — no matter what. Now, I just smile and nod and walk away before she can get to any negative comments that I can’t do anything about.

Ignore People Who Try to Blame You

Just like my farmers’ market lady from the above scenario, there will always be people who either try to blame you for everything — or who bring all of their problems to you. And if you’re like me, you want to help people. You want them to come to you when they have issues and you want to help them sort them out. But have you ever noticed that there are a few people who have drama in every aspect of their lives? And they need you to get in the middle and sort it out? Don’t. This sort of negative energy can start to permeate your life as well and you simply don’t need it. Once you let the negative lives of others seep into yours, you start to feel stressed out — over stuff that isn’t your problem! Sometimes, you have to say “no,” or “I’m sorry, I can’t help with this right now.”

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Ignore Other People’s Opinions

Other people’s opinions of what you do and how you do it can bring a lot of stress into your life. For a long time, I avoided moving to Alaska and pursuing my own dreams because of the opinions of my family. They thought I would be irresponsible and crazy if I took my kids so far north. Now I know that they were really just afraid for me, but for a long time I let that stress control my life. Whether the other people’s opinions are good or bad, you must ignore them to keep that stress out of your life and move forward.

Ignore the Idea of “Perfect.”

Too often, we want things to be “just perfect.” The house, the yard, our car, our job — all of it should be and act just according to our plan. When the house doesn’t look nice for company or we don’t get the promotion in a timely manner, we start to feel stressed. Unfortunately, life doesn’t happen on a perfectly planned time table. Let the notion of “perfect” go and you will find the stress you feel reduce immensely. Sometimes, when the book club is coming, “good enough,” is “good enough.” Sometimes, when the day is beautiful, it’s more important to spend it at the beach with the kids than to worry about the lawn getting mowed or the weeds in the flower bed.

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Ignore the Desire for Stuff

The desire to get more stuff can create more stress than we really need. Yes, a new car would be nice, but for how long? If you are fortunate enough to have a car that works well, then don’t worry about getting another. Do you really need a huge TV or the latest washer and dryer? The desire for new and better can create stress among family and friends that you really don’t need, especially if you feel like you are the one being left behind. Practicing gratitude for what we have — and wanting what we have can reduce stress and make our lives much more pleasant overall.

Ignore “Easy.”

Life isn’t easy. Ever. In fact, if something is too easy, it’s probably not worth your trouble. Things that are satisfying are often hard. Trying to make things too easy can be stressful. Assuming that things that are important are going to require effort will actually reduce the amount of stress you feel.

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Change

Be flexible. Change as it is needed. Make changes. Adapt. When you accept that things have to change, you can reduce the amount of stress you feel. Go with the flow and you’ll find life, work and relationships a lot less stressful overall.

More by this author

Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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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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