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10 Situations People with Claustrophobia Absolutely Hate

10 Situations People with Claustrophobia Absolutely Hate
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Being claustrophobic is no fun. Getting stuck in a literal tight situation could be the difference between absolute calm and absolute panic attack. While my mother has found ways to combat her claustrophobia, going out of her way to avoid situations in which she feels closed in, I remain a glutton for punishment. I often end up finding myself in some of the following terrifying claustrophobic situations:

1. We Hate Crowded Elevators

The day I was moving into my apartment with my wife, we got stuck in the service elevator with a custodian and a huge bucket of garbage. For a half hour. In the dead of summer! Not exactly the way we wanted to start our life together, but at least we have a story to tell. I just know when the doors finally opened, I literally jumped out and just sat on the ground for a few minutes in order to regain my composure. I know it was a fluke, and I have no problem using elevators now, but if if there’s more than one or two people already on, I just wait for the next one. If I’m going to freak out, I’d rather be alone – there’s more jumping room.

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2. We Hate Concerts

Don’t get me wrong, I love going to concerts and shows, but standing room only is absolute torture. You only have one of two options: Stand in the middle of the crowd, or stand pressed up against the wall. Either way, you better like the decision you made, because chances are you’re going to be stuck there for the remainder of the night. With hundreds of other people jumping, dancing, and sweating all over you, it’s almost impossible to actually enjoy the band you came to see. If I’m going to a concert, I’ll gladly pay the extra fee to sit and enjoy myself.

3. We Hate Bars

In my college days, my friends would often drag me out for a night on the town, much to my chagrin. Again, I loved being out with my friends, but they seemed to actually like being stuck in a huge crowd full of drunken idiots, not being able to understand a word we said to each other. I definitely do not miss those days. Since you’re at a bar, you want to be able to have a drink. At a crowded college bar, that means weaving through the crowd, being pressed up against the bar, shouting for the bartender’s attention, then weaving your way back to the group without spilling the beverage you just spent six bucks on. If I could go back to those days, I would have just gone home early.

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4. We Hate Crowds in General

This is a no brainer, but claustrophobic people hate crowds. This includes any place where you have to wait in line alongside more than two or three people. Even on line at the supermarket, once you get locked in from behind, you’re going to feel the walls closing in. That said, nothing compares to the herd mentality at concerts or ball games, in which people bunch up outside the gates, and then funnel in with little disregard for those around them. My thought process in these situations is: If I don’t wait until the crowd dies down, I’ll have to spend five minutes “on the inside” recuperating. If I wait five minutes now, I’ll get inside and be able to move quickly.

5. We Hate Haunted Houses and Fun Houses

Honestly, I really don’t mind haunted houses. I expect to be scared, shocked, and thrilled, so I somehow am able to let my claustrophobia go in October. Wait. Now that I think about it, the last time I was in a corn maze was an absolute nightmare. Sure, you have the flag thing to help people find you if you get stuck, but in the heat of the moment, getting lost in a corn maze makes you feel like the walls are getting closer and closer together. After your first few wrong turns, panic sets in, and you start to wonder how long it’ll take to find the exit. Maybe instead of a flag, they could give claustrophobic people hedge clippers.

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6. We Hate Subways or Trains

As long as I can find a seat, I love riding the train into the city for a day of exploration. However, when that train is crowded, it’s thirty minutes of absolute anxiety. I’ve already went over how awful it is to be pressed up against other people in a crowd, but the situation is much worse when you’re in a moving vehicle. There are so many things that could go wrong here: a sudden stop could leave you splayed out across the lap of three strangers, or an elongated stop could leave you squished in a crowd for an indeterminate amount of time. I don’t even want to think of anything worse. When faced with a crowded train, it’s best to find a pole and grab on for dear life.

7. We Hate Tunnels

This is another situation which I actually secretly love for some reason. I know other people who suffer from claustrophobia hate them. Going through tunnels can be incredibly nerve wracking. The thought of being either underwater or under a mountain can lead to so many other thoughts of the horrible possibilities that could occur in the minute or two you spend inside the tunnel. I won’t list those possibilities here, but if you suffer from claustrophobia, I’m sure you’ve thought of them before. Just remember the next time you’re charged an $8 toll, your money is going toward safeguarding you and everyone else from these possibilities!

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8. We Hate Getting Stuck On A Ride

Earlier, I spoke about how getting stuck on a train is torture, with one of the main contributing factors being the fact that you have no idea how long you’ll be stuck. Now, imagine this happening 50-100 feet in the air in a Ferris wheel gondola or a roller coaster cart. Actually, don’t imagine that. I don’t even want to think about it, but I guess I have to for the sake of this article. This is one of those moments where I think the best advice is simply this: Don’t move. Have faith that the ride technicians will be working hard to get the ride moving again, and be patient. Perhaps most importantly: Don’t look down!

9. We Hate Sitting in the Middle Seat

Okay, let’s lighten it up a bit after the last few harrowing situations. Sitting in the middle seat, especially as an adult, is incredibly uncomfortable. You have no place to put your arms, and you’re basically at the mercy of the two passengers flanking you. Unfortunately, in such a situation, the best thing to do is simply fold your hands in your lap, look straight forward, and pray the driver hits every green light on the way to your destination.

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10. We Hate Porta Potties

I don’t think anyone really enjoys being in a porta potty, but these are an absolute nightmare for claustrophobic people. I don’t even know if I can talk about this one. It’s pretty obvious why these are hell on earth, especially on a hot summer day. When possible, avoid having to use these at all costs. If you absolutely have to – hold your breath and hover!

Featured photo credit: Sad woman sitting alone on the windowsill via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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