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How Mentally Strong People Survive Stressful Situations Without Emotional Breakdowns

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How Mentally Strong People Survive Stressful Situations Without Emotional Breakdowns

Have you ever had an emotional breakdown?

I had. It was about two years ago. At this time I worked in a job I absolutely hated and I accidentally deleted a document that I worked on for more than five hours when it happened.

The moment I deleted the file, my hands started to shake, I sweated all over my body and the only thing that I wanted to do was to cry and to throw my freaking laptop out of the window. The only reason why my boss didn’t call the ambulance was because I was able to hold back my tears until I was on the toilet.

In case you think that five wasted hours are not a reason for a meltdown, you are already mentally stronger than I have been at this time. If you, however, understand the pain I felt, you most likely don’t handle stressful situations the way mentally strong people handle them.

Don’t worry. I had to read countless personal development books until I was finally able to survive stressful situations without bruises, strokes and heart attacks. After reading all those books and studying psychology at the university, I realized that mentally strong people who have no problem with stressful situations have ten things in common.

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They don’t see things worse than they are

Whereas people who are very bad at handling stressful situations regard every problem as a reason why the world could end tomorrow, mentally strong people don’t make a problem bigger than it is. I am sure you know those people who freak out as soon something doesn’t work the way they want.

A person who is good at handling stressful situations would never see things worse than they are. A certain dose of realism is way better than too much pessimism.

They are better at accepting reality

The biggest problem that I had when I had my emotional breakdown was that I was still in denial about what happened. I refused to accept the fact that five hours of work got flushed down the toilet by clicking on the wrong button.

If I would have simply accepted what happened, I would have been able to move on within seconds, instead of regretting what I did for the next couple of hours.

They know that stress can be positive

During my psychology studies, I learned that stress can be an extremely positive state of mind. The big problem is that people who can’t deal with stressful situations interpret every indication of stress as a negative condition that should be avoided at all cost, without seeing its benefits.

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Mentally strong people know that stress can be a huge motivating power that can lead to more motivation and a higher level of success. If I wouldn’t put myself under stress by setting a deadline for this article, you wouldn’t be able to read this now.

They interpret stressful situations as opportunities to learn

For most people, stressful situations are a pain in the ass. They fear them, they try to avoid them and they try to put an end to the stress as soon as it arises. This behavior is great if you don’t want to leave your comfort zone, but it is terrible if you want to grow and learn.

The reason why you end up being in a stressful situation is most likely attributed to a mistake you made. A mentally strong person knows that the situation in which he maneuvered himself into offers a great opportunity to learn from mistakes, and to grow as a person as well.

They enjoy the process of becoming stress-resilient

In the same way as you become more confident around men or women, the more of them that you approach, the more likely you are to become more stress-resilient, and the more stressful situations you survive.

Whereas a mentally weak person is afraid to go through this hellish process, a mentally strong person knows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that makes him more resilient for the next stressful situation he has to face.

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They use techniques to calm their minds

What do people who are bad at handling stressful situations do when they are faced with one? They freak out, they break down and they cry for their mothers.

What do mentally strong people do in the same situation? They meditate. The reason why some people can deal with stressful situations and others can’t has nothing to do with God-given powers or a genetic predisposition.

They simply have tools and techniques, such as meditation or autogenic training, that help them to cope with situations that other people can’t cope with.

They are not too proud to search for advice

Sometimes the reason for stress is your inability to handle a situation on your own. And do you know what? That’s absolutely fine. We all reach points in our lives where we need help from other people.

Unfortunately, some people are too stubborn and too proud to ask others for help. Thank God there are also people who know that it is easier to deal with a stressful situation if you master it together.

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They know the difference between real problems and ego problems

When I think back to the day when I had my emotional breakdown I have to admit that I wasn’t faced with a real problem. Yes, my document was gone forever and I had worked for five hours without any reward, but was that really such a big problem?

Nobody except me knew it and I was sure that my boss would never fire me because of such a little mistake. The only reason why I suffered so much was because my ego was hurt. While most people think that a stressful situation is a huge problem, mentally strong people detect when it’s only their ego that is a bit hurt.

They are able to read the symptoms

Prevention is better than cure and the reason why mentally strong people can prevent stressful situations from happening is because they can read the symptoms. You need a certain mental and emotional strength in order to develop a high awareness for the signs your body sends out.

You can handle stressful situations way better if you rethink the way you do things as soon as your heart starts to race and your hands start to shake.

They learned to control their emotions

The most important skill that allows mentally strong people to survive stressful situations without emotional breakdowns is that they learned to control their emotions. A lot of people are victims to their own emotion who have no clue how to control them.

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If you can learn how to control your emotions, the next stressful situation you will face will feel like a walk in the park.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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

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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