Advertising

10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad
Advertising

You just got dumped. Your company is going through a merge and it looks like you will be lose your job. Your mortgage payment is due tomorrow but you don’t have the money. You just got diagnosed with diabetes, or cancer, or heart disease. Sometimes when life gets tough, it’s hard to feel optimistic. Being positive is like flexing a muscle; the more you work it out the easier it gets. Here are a few quick hacks that can actually change the way your brain deals with negative situations.

1. Step Back And Assess Your Situation

Put distance between you and  positivity zappers like fear and anger. Try to look at your situation without emotion attached. In order to stay positive you need clarity. Just like sitting in the front row at the movies can make it hard to see the whole screen, when you are too close to the situation it can be a challenge to see it clearly. Describe your sitaution devoid of emotion in the simplest terms. For example, if you have lost your job you can get caught up in the emotion of feeling wronged or inadeqaute. Your worry can take over and lead you to imagine the worse case scenario like losing your home and your family. Before you let this downward spiral begin make a simple assessment. “I have lost my job. I need a plan to find a new job.”

Advertising

2. Remember Everything Can Be a Miraculous Opportunity

Everything can be an opportunity. When I speak to people who have cancer, it is amazing the number of stories where people, in hindsight, are grateful for their illness and even their losses. We do the most personal growth and change when we have had to dig deep. Recognizing this can release some of that fight-or-flight reaction. Remind yourself that people overcome negative things to be better versions of themselves. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, recognize that although you wouldn’t invite or celebrate what you are dealing with, you can accept it and move on.

3. Move Your Body, It Calms Your Mind

Exercise releases chemicals that calm and heal. It also provides a momentary escape from your thoughts. When you choose an activity like Zumba or tennis that requires focus and concentration, you give yourself a little time-out from thinking about your situation. When you finish whatever exercise you have chosen, your body will have released some calming chemicals and your mind will be refreshed. This can feel like coming at your problem from a new perspective.

Advertising

4. Wait and Breathe

When our body starts its fight-or-flight reaction the natural chemicals that are released impede our ability to make good decisions. Taking time to breathe deeply or to meditate couteracts the stress process that your body has started and enables you to use better judgement on how to proceed. This is one time when less is not more. Take as much time as you need to calm yourself before your begin planning or decision making.

5. Be Self-Compassionate

In a class I was recently teaching, I asked the participants to rate their compassion on a scale of one to ten. Most participants rated themselves as a seven or eight. But when I asked them to rate their self-compassion, many dipped down to a two or three. We truly can be our own harshest critic and worst enemy. Practice treating yourself the way you would a small child. Speak kindly to yourself. I like to imagine that everything I think about myself is immediately printed on my forehead. If I don’t want others to think I am forgetful, incompetent, or not enough then I cannot have these thoughts myself.

Advertising

6. Get Outside

David Suzuki recently studied the effects of spending 30 minutes outside everyday. Not surprisingly people were happier and less stressed out after they had spent time in nature. You don’t have to hike the Appalachians, just get on the roof and star gaze or feed the ducks in the park. The body relaxes and then releases chemicals that help lower blood pressure, heighten immunity and support emotional resilience.

7. Make a Plan

When the feeling of being overwhelmed hits, mapping out what your next steps are can be really useful. You cannot always solve the whole problem, but breaking what you need to do into manageable bites can stop the fight or flight reaction and allow you to take charge of your emotions.

Advertising

8. Create an Affirmation

An affirmation is a positive phrase that moves you towards what you want by behaving as though you already have it. Simple affirmations that you repeat to yourself in your head may be:

  • Right now, I am okay.
  • I am resilient
  • Things are getting better
  • I am stable during life’s ups and downs.

Or you can create a more specific and advanced one like:

Advertising

  • I attract abundance and love
  • My awareness is anchored in tranquility.
  • I easily find a new job that I love.
  • I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life.

9. Move Towards What You Want

Part of moving towards what you want is knowing what that is. For example if you are ending a relationship instead of thinking “I don’t want to be with someone who treats me badly” you might think “I deserve a partner who treats me with kindness and love”. The difference might seem subtle but moving toward something is always more concrete than escaping something. The universe loves specificity!

10. Find Moments of Gratitude

There is always something to be thankful for. Even life seems to be kicking you when you are down, there is always something to be thankful for. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism and I was feeling very sorry for myself, I met a mom who had a daughter the same age who had autism and leukemia. My child was not dealing with fighting for her life alongside her new diagnosis. Comparison isn’t always the thief of joy. Sometimes it can remind us of the good things we have. As you practice gratitude for these things, your brain strengthens its ability to find things to be grateful for and soon you will be seeing good all around you. A great way to get started is with a  joy journal where you make a daily list of 3 things you are thankful for. As you make a practice of acknowledging the good things in your life, you become more positive.

More by this author

Why Meditation Makes You Happier, Healthier and More Successful and How To Get Started confident woman 22 Things That Confident Women Don’t Do This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Walk In The Woods Touching Other People Can Make You Healthier And More Successful, Study Finds 5 Tips from Positive Psychology to Help You Avoid Holiday Stress

Trending in Communication

1 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 2 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 3 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 4 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People 5 13 Simple Habits of Happiness To Change Your Outlook on Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

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)
Advertising

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:

Advertising

  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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • 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

Read Next