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Ways to Give to Charity Without Breaking the Bank

Ways to Give to Charity Without Breaking the Bank

With today’s economy as hideous as it is, a lot of people balk at the idea of giving to charity: many of us live very frugally out of necessity, and we don’t necessarily have a load of extra cash to pour towards charitable or non-profit organizations. That said, Mother Theresa was right on point when she said: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” It doesn’t take much effort to make a dramatic difference in another’s life, so if any of these low-cost charitable actions appeal to you, consider taking part in a couple of them.

Virtual Donations

Help doesn’t have to happen face-to-face: if you’re housebound (or shy), you can help out from the comfort of your own home.

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  • Click to help others. The Greater Good web hub allows you to donate items to the needy with a simple click of your mouse. You can choose to support breast cancer research, anti-hunger campaigns, organizations that work towards eliminating cruelty to animals, and many others.
  • Play a Game. For every answer you get right in their numerous online games, Free Rice will donate rice to the World Food Programme to end hunger.
  • Sign Petitions. There are countless issues around the world that are in need of addressing, and chances are you’ll find an online petition for any cause that you feel strongly about. Signing a petition doesn’t take long, and can result in some amazing, positive change. Every signature is a voice, and sometimes those who cannot speak for themselves need us to stand up and speak out on their behalf.

The Gift of Time

If you don’t have much extra change lying around, chances are you may have a bit of time to spare. Instead of spending an hour looking at cat videos on YouTube or liking various people’s Facebook posts, you could fill those 60 minutes by doing something that could benefit other people. Websites such as Idealist and Charity Village post all manner of volunteer opportunities, so you can donate your time in a way that suits you best.

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If you’re a fairly social person and like the idea of hands-on charitable support where you can interact with the public, consider helping out in one of the following ways:

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  • Volunteering at an animal shelter. The furred and feathered friends waiting for adoption at shelters need a lot of love and attention; generally more than the staff members can allot to each one. If you’re an animal lover, consider volunteering to walk dogs, brush cats, or just spend time interacting with the birds and little furry creatures. They’re likely scared and confused, and being gentle and attentive can lift their spirits and give them  better chances of being re-homed.
  • Spending time with elderly residents in retirement homes. Many elderly people who live in care facilities are really quite lonely: those who don’t have family members living nearby may not ever receive visitors, and those who may be confined to bed or wheelchairs can’t really take part in facility events. Some may enjoy being read to, others might like to chat about the past over a cup of tea, and some may feel immensely useful if they can help you learn to knit, or learn a new language.
  • Helping out at a soup kitchen or food bank. Despite what you may have been led to believe, not all of the clients at soup kitchens are violent, schizophrenic homeless people who’ll attack you with broken umbrellas if you don’t greet their imaginary friends. Sadly, many who visit soup kitchens and food banks are poverty-stricken families with young children, students who have to choose between tuition and meals, and highly educated people who’ve found themselves unemployed thanks to the recession. You can help to nourish people’s spirits by letting them know that they’re worthy of kindness and respect, while you’re ensuring that they enjoy a warm meal.
  • Offering companionship at a hospice. This one might be difficult for people who are emotionally sensitive, as hospices are care facilities for the dying. Many people find it difficult to face mortality, and spending time with those whose lives are ending isn’t easy. That said, if you feel that you’re in a position to be able to offer your assistance to these patients, be it by reading to them, helping them with paperwork, or just holding their hand and listening to them, the experience can be incredibly rewarding for all involved.

Put Your Skills to Work

If you have some great skills and would like to use them for the benefit of others, there are many ways in which you can help out:

  • Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Are you handy with a hammer? Habitat for Humanity is always on the lookout for people who have carpentry and building skills.
  • Make warm clothes for newborns and orphans. There are many organizations worldwide that accept handmade or knitted accessories and clothes for premature newborns and orphaned children.
  • Knit or crochet for those in need. If you’re an avid knitter or crocheter, consider using scrap yarn to make blankets and warm clothing for homeless outreach programs, animal shelters and rehabilitation centers, elderly folks living in poverty, or those living in refugee camps. 

Other Donations

Should you still wish to give to charity but don’t have time or money to give, then consider cleaning out your closets and cupboards for items to donate. Food banks are always in need of canned goods and other non-perishable items, and gently used clothes, blankets, and toys can be put to great use in women’s shelters and homeless outreach programs.

There’s always some way in which we can help others, and if we are able to do so, we probably should.

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More by this author

Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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