What Does Our Body Language Say?

Our body language and facial expressions make up so much of what we say – experts suggest that it may make up 50 – 70% of all communication! If we use it so much in our daily lives, have you ever wondered: what exactly am I saying with my body language? Here are some common movements and habits that people have and what we might be saying without words!

Eyes

  • Eyebrows: your eyebrows can say a lot about your emotions! Furrowed or scrunched up eyebrows typically mean frustration or confusion, while raised eyebrows shows interest, curiosity, or surprise!.
  • Blinking: most people blink an average of 6-8 times per minute. If you’re under stress, you blink a lot more. You can tell if others might be stressing out by how much they’re blinking.
  • Looking up or to the side: this tells a lot about how our memory works. If you are trying to remember something you’ve seen before, you will typically look up like you’re trying to picture it. If you are trying to remember something you’ve heard, you will look to the side towards one of your ears, like you’re listening for it.
  • Lowering your eyes: can you picture little kids doing this when they feel sorry or want something? Lowering your eyes is a common human response to wanting the support of others or needing some empathy.

Mouth

  • Smiling: there’s a reason people say smiling is contagious! When you smile, it sends signals to the other person that they should be smiling, too.
  • Chewing on your lip: many people have a habit of biting or sucking on their lip when they’re in an awkward situation or feel uncomfortable. It could be because they’re trying to soothe themselves!
  • Tense lips: pursed or tensed lips are often a sign of anger or annoyance. Be sure to pick up on this cue and try to alleviate the tension next time you’re around some with pursed lips!

face

  • Scratching your nose: this is often associated with telling lies. This is because when someone tells a lie, they get a small adrenaline rush which causes your nose to itch! So watch out for people itching their nose when saying something suspicious.
  • Tilting your head: this is a sign of interest and engagement. We do it out of habit when listening to a friend’s interesting story, both out of intrigue and also it helps us hear better when we angle our ear towards them.

body

  • Angling your body: we will usually angle our feet towards those we are paying close attention to or respect. For example, you may angle your body towards your professor when listening to a lecture. It’s also a sign of acceptance when a friend walks up to join your group and you angle your body out to welcome them in!
  • Slouching shoulders: doing this too much can make your body hold on to stress and feel sad or weighed down. Try to stand up straight and you’ll feel more confident and positive!
  • Rocking from side to side: when you shift your weight back and forth between your legs, this is often a sign that you are anxious and are trying to comfort yourself.

hands

  • Handshakes: some people say the way you shake hands says a lot about you! A firm but nice grip implies that you’re outgoing and confident, while a limp squeeze or too quick of a shake could mean you are shy or unsure.
  • Gesturing when you talk: research shows that those who gesture more with their arms tend to be energetic and agreeable, so if you are trying to make an impression or be more memorable, try to use your hands when you talk. But don’t overdo it! Too much arm movement can seem overly excited or out of control.
  • Picking at your nails: this is a sign of low confidence or stress. Instead of messing with your nails, try finding something else to do with your hands such as a stress ball, fidget object of some sort, or folding your hands together so you’re not able to reach the nails.

Test Anxiety? How to Relax and Stay Focused

The end of the semester is drawing near and summer is right around the corner! The only thing standing between you and binging on Netflix at the beach is one thing: final exams. The week of finals is always stressful and can cause anxiety in many college students. Last week, we gave tips on how to stay organized and prep for finals. This time, we have some specific ways to get rid of that test anxiety in the hours leading up to your exams! Here are 9 ways to relax and reduce your stress right before you take that test.

1. Make sure you’re eating right. Too much caffeine, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and heavy preservatives right before your exam can make you tired and sluggish, and affect your memory negatively. Instead, opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other healthy snacks and meals for the hours leading up to the exam. And don’t go to the test on an empty stomach! Make sure you eat a good meal beforehand.

2. Get some sleep! This goes without saying, but it’s important to get enough sleep before an exam. Cramming for 12 hours straight is only going to make you more tired and groggy.

3. Stop working/studying at least 30 minutes before going to bed the night before the test. Put away your laptop and phone: the blue lights from these screens can mess with your sleep cycle and make it harder to sleep. You’ll feel more refreshed in the morning!

4. Take a bath with Epsom salts. Epsom salt has magnesium sulfate, which helps promote calmness and relaxation.

5. Try aromatherapy! Essential oils like lavender, lemon, bergamot, clary sage, and jasmine are great for relaxing those nerves and clearing your mind. There are several ways you can use essential oils:

  • Put a few drops in your bath or shower.
  • Use a diffuser so that the oils are diffused all through the room.
  • Apply it directly onto your body, such as around your temple or your wrist. Be careful when you do this because undiluted oils are very strong and can irritate the skin. Make sure you have essential oils that are diluted in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil.

6. Focus on your breathing. It may sound silly, but deep breathing exercises can really help calm your mind. When you’re stressed, you often take short, shallow breaths and are not getting proper oxygen amounts through your blood. The next time you feel anxious, stop and take a few moments to inhale and exhale deeply. Repeat this breathing exercise (or find some other ones here) several times until you feel more calm.

7. Stretching and yoga can actually help calm your mind by releasing tension that’s built up in your muscles. Take a few minutes the night before your exam and the day of to really stretch out your muscles. You can even try a few yoga poses suggested here!

8. Treat yourself! The day before the exam, go get something small or do a short activity that you find enjoyable. This could be a sweet treat, a walk around the park, or whatever will help you relax and feel special.

9. Think positive! This is sometimes easier said than done, but part of why you may be so stressed is because you keep thinking of the worst that could happen. Instead of psyching yourself out, try to stay positive and surround yourself with people who will cheer you up and keep you optimistic. Remember, it’s just one exam and it’ll be over soon!

How to De-Stress and Prep for Finals

We all know what typical college life looks like the week of final exams: tons of students holed up in the library till 3am with a double shot of espresso in one hand, and a textbook in the other. Final exams bring a feeling of instant fear and pressure to most college students, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Below is a list of ways to help you de-stress and prepare for that dreaded finals week. Just remember, summer is right around the corner!

Get organized!

Often, we don’t take time to organize our schedule and study time and it leaves us feeling rushed and panicked. Before finals week rolls around, take some time to organize your notes, create a schedule for studying and exams, and even put together some study groups and schedule meeting times. Finals will seem much less stressful when you’re organized and prepared!

Exercise, or spend time outside.

When we exercise, our bodies naturally release endorphins which help you calm down and defeat stress! Don’t stay isolated inside the whole time; fresh air can do wonders and clear your head.

Make sure you sleep!

A huge college cliche is pulling all-nighters to cram for exams. This is very unhealthy and leaves you feeling drained and unmotivated. Getting sleep actually helps solidify the material you’ve studied, and you’ll feel refreshed instead of stressed. Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep each night!

Find something that helps you clear your head.

This could be music, meditation, yoga, massages, herbal tea, or anything that helps calm you down and get out of the frenzied mindset. Take a break for just 10 minutes and do whatever you find relaxing.

Plan your meals!

When it comes to finals week, the last thing you’re thinking about is cooking. Usually, that means fast food for 3 meals a day! This will only make you feel more sluggish and have sugar crashes throughout the week (not to mention take a huge toll on your wallet). Instead, take some time in advance to meal prep. This could be as simple as making tons of sandwiches and setting aside baggies of fruit, vegetables, and chips to grab and go! It will bring you relief knowing your food is taken care of and you don’t have to spend money.

Stay hydrated!

Your brain works best when it is hydrated. If you haven’t had enough water, or you’ve had too much caffeine and sugary drinks, you’ll feel more and more tired and distracted. Get a reusable water bottle and keep it filled at all times!

Don’t procrastinate on other assignments.

Some classes have final projects or essays due around the same time as finals, but you have weeks (or even months) to complete those. Don’t wait until the last minute to finish those assignments, on top of studying for exams!

Use positive self-talk!

What is your attitude like during finals week? Are you constantly negative and put a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself to get perfect scores? Your mindset going into finals can be what’s stressing you out the most! Practice changing your attitude and using positive self-talk: it’s like having an optimistic voice in your head all the time, making you feel good and confident in yourself. There are actually studies that show that positive self-talk strengthens your performance and well-being!

Hopefully these tips can help you prepare for finals and not take as much anxiety with you. Always remember the bigger picture and what you’re working towards! It will all be worth it in the end!

Mini Hobbies That Can Help You De-Stress

Hobbies can be anything you enjoy doing. Whether it’s staying in and watching TV, spending time switching between social media apps or taking naps. Sometimes these “hobbies” become routine and we need a break to do something a bit more fulfilling. Having hobbies can be useful so that when you’re ready to get back to work, you have a clear mind. Here are a few things you can try to do:

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Get Grounded!

When we’re stuck inside all day, whether for school or work, it can be harder to be productive. It’s so hard to unplug and get grounded, here are a few things you can try to ease yourself into the habit of unplugging:  

  • GARDENING
    • Nothing is more grounding than giving back to nature. If you don’t know anything about gardening, that’s OK! There are plenty of how-to books to help you get started. In case there isn’t a place for you to garden, you can invest in house plants. Bringing nature back into your house can liven it up and clean your air as well. There are plenty of different types of plants that will be convenient for your time and needs. Don’t have time to go to your local nursery? There are websites that will deliver the plants straight to your doorstep!
  • CAMPING/HIKING
    • Don’t have a green thumb? That’s ok too! Remember, hobbies are something that you like to do. If you’re more of the athletic type then give camping a go. There are usually trails around the campsites and you can hike around in the area. Adventures in nature are something that can clear your mind.
  • STARGAZING
    • Whether you’re out camping, in your backyard, or even on your balcony, the stars are always out to say hello! You don’t necessarily need a fancy telescope either, some stars and planets are visible to the naked eye. You can learn all about them through books, the internet, or even apps. My personal favorite is the SkyView. All you have to do is point your smart phone at any part of the sky, and the app will tell you what stars, planets, asteroids, satellites, etc. should be there! So even if you can’t see it without a telescope, at least you’ll know which cool constellation is hovering above you!
  • COLLECTING  
    • If you thought that collecting things was just a hobby for children, think again. It’s never too late to start collecting things. Choose an item or items that interest you (and fit in your space). This can be anything from rocks that you find when out on nature walks, gems, bottle caps or even aluminum cans (you can even get some cash if you take the cans to your local recycling area. Not only will you be helping Mother Earth, but you’ll also get some extra change in your pocket).

Create!

The outdoors aren’t for everyone and that’s ok. Some people have a more creative side that needs to be explored more. There are plenty of activities that can be done from the comfort of your home or your favorite coffee shop. Here are a few hobbies that are done using pens, markers, and stationery items:

  • WRITING/JOURNALING
    • There are times that our minds are overflowing with thoughts and ideas and it’s hard to organize them. Writing down your thoughts can help you de-stress. There are also online platforms like Wattpad and Webtoon that you can upload your content on for other readers. This can even lead to being discovered by scouts and can eventually lead to publication. Maybe you want something more personal, journaling can be the way to go. There are bullet journals you can buy or create yourself. Writing about anything can help sort out your thoughts on what might be causing more stress.
  • CALLIGRAPHY/DRAWING
    • Don’t want to write about your thoughts but you still want to use those cool pens you bought a while ago? Then try calligraphy! This type of art is a hot trending topic these days. There are plenty of books you can either buy or borrow from your local library. Perhaps you’re not sure where to start, then there are even kits sold in certain bookstores and online that come equipped with utensils that are needed and instructional books. Additionally, there are so many Instagrammers and YouTubers that specialize in this kind of content
      • Drawing can also be an outlet to help manage stress. The good thing about drawing is that you don’t have to be good at drawing. It’s art so it can be as good as you want it to be. There are also videos on online that can help you achieve the style you want.
  • SCRAPBOOKING
    • If you’re the sentimental type, then you can pick up scrapbooking. Not only can you use calligraphy but you can also put your new drawing skills into it. Scrapbooking can be a method to incorporate all types of art forms while keeping your memories alive. 
  • ORIGAMI
    • If you’re the type that wants to see the end product of what you’re working on, then origami can be the hobby for you. There are all types of intricate designs and sizes that you can make. There are plenty of books and videos on origami. Sometimes even thrift stores will have books on different trades and crafts that you can find at a fairly low price.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    • Photography is such a versatile hobby! You can do it from the comfort of your own home, or you can go outside and take pictures of anything else. So while you’re taking a walk outside, you can take advantage of the scenery and take amazing pictures. You don’t need a fancy camera to take the pictures either, most mobile devices nowadays have amazing camera qualities. You can even buy lenses for cell phones online at a very low cost.
  • DIY PROJECTS
    • Pinterest is a great place to look for DIY projects to do in your home either alone or with a group of friends. Who knows? maybe you’ll uncover a new hidden talent.
  • SEWING/CROCHETING/KNITTING
    • Sewing can be for everyone of all ages. It’s also a hobby that can save you money in the long run! Most local arts and craft stores have starter kits for all different types of sewing projects, whether it’s sewing something small or knitting a blanket.

Stimulate Your Mind!

Perhaps you need a bit more of a challenge mentally, then there are other outlets that might be more suited for you.

  • LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
    • There are different apps for your mobile device that allow you to learn a new language. Apps like Duolingo and Memrise are at a low cost or even free. Not only is a challenging thing to do but if you get fluent enough with the language then you can add it to your resume.
  • LEARN A NEW INSTRUMENT
    • Music is an outlet that helps a lot of people combat stress. What better way to feel one with music than to make the music yourself? Do some research on what would be best suited for you and look for videos online that can teach you. You can also visit your local library and explore the books that they have or just stop into a local music shop.
  • CHESS/STRATEGIC GAMES
    • Chess is a great way to sharpen your strategic and critical thinking skills. You can learn a lot about yourself too! When you’re stuck on a problem whether at work or school, taking on a different mental challenge can help you come back to the problem with a new solution.
  • INTROSPECTION
    • One of the most beneficial hobbies to have is one that helps your personal growth. Professional, academic, social growth, etc. all come back to personal growth. Get in touch with your sense of self. If you need a little guidance, you can research different personality tests and identifiers. Find out your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from 16Personalities. Or figure out your strengths and weaknesses through Stephen Covey’s Strengthsfinders 2.0. If you’re into astrology, there are so many different websites like CafeAstrology that will help you create your birth chart.

Get Active!

  • DANCING
    • Being active can be a very helpful way to help combat stress. There’s also no need to go out. It can be completely free by just turning on the radio and dancing in your room. Don’t want to do it alone, check your local community center and they might offer Zumba classes at a low cost.
  • COOKING
    • Cooking is another way that you can express yourself while destressing. There are many forms of cooking that you can choose from. Even if you don’t know how to cook, there are lots of books at the library you can check out and online.
  • VOLUNTEERING
    • Want to feel like you’re doing something for your community? Then check your local community centers to volunteer. There are plenty of options that you can do. Volunteering is a very fulfilling experience that you can learn from.