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7 Mindfulness Habits That Lead To 365 Days of Happiness

7 Mindfulness Habits That Lead To 365 Days of Happiness

Would you like to become smarter, healthier, be in better shape, feel more relaxed, and have more energy than you thought possible? Of course you would!  If you adopt these 7 mindful habits into your everyday life, your next 365 days will be your best ever!

1. Become Mindful in Your Everyday Life

To be mindful simply means to pay attention on purpose. Much of our lives are spent on auto-pilot, where our mind just wanders from thought to thought. A good example of this is when we are driving. Have you ever been driving down the freeway, a few minutes go by, you come back to your conscious thought and you can’t remember what has happened in those last few minutes. Yes, you were driving, but you can’t remember what you passed, what you saw, or what was going on around you.

You were in auto-pilot mode, or daydreaming. Auto-pilot is the opposite of mindfulness. When being mindful, you’re aware of your surroundings, in the present and observe without judgement. You can start to practice being mindful right now as you read this article. Don’t just read this article, pay attention, be attentive, and understand what it is saying.

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Do me a favor, take 15 seconds right now and look around. Observe what is around you. Really look at things…the computer, tablet, or phone you are reading this on. Acknowledge the size of the room or space you are in, what you are sitting on, and anything that is around you. That is an example of being mindful, just being in the present without your mind wandering off to what happened yesterday or what is coming up tomorrow. Start to do this a few times a day. Stop what you are doing and look around to notice where and what is going on. So, why practice mindfulness? Not only does it increase both your physical and mental health, it is scientifically proven to increase the gray matter in your brain, in other words…make you smarter!

2. You Are What You Eat 

We put food in our body when we feel hungry, bored, stressed, depressed and for a number of other reasons. Food is essentially our energy source. Food gives us the fuel to keep going throughout the day. Being mindful of what you put in your body will affect your energy level, your cognitive skills, as well as your mood. Just like a high performance car demands high performance gas, if you want your body to perform at a high level you need to put high level food in your body. The old adage “you get out what you put in” says it best.  This also goes for your mind as the brain burns 20% of the calories you take in. So, start paying attention to what goes in your body and how it makes you feel.

3. I Want to Pump You Up!

We all know we need to exercise. For most, we go in and out of stages of a regular exercise routines, to not remembering where the gym is. When we’re not exercising regularly we find just about any excuse not to…I’m tired, I don’t have time, I think I pulled my back, just to name a few.  Whatever your excuse, throw it out the window. Become mindful about exercising regularly, because there is no excuse not to do something that decreases your stress, improves learning capabilities, improves self-esteem, gives you a natural high, makes you feel and look younger, and allows you to live a more vibrant life. Now, go put the gym in your GPS and get moving!

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4. Get Your Beauty Sleep

Sleep is one of the most underrated activities that we partake in each and every day. How can you be mindful when you’re sleeping? Look at your sleep schedule or patterns. When do you go to sleep? When do you wake up? How well do you sleep?  Do you wake up several times during the night? Do you set an alarm? How many hours a night do you sleep? Are you tired during the day? Do you take naps? Once you understand your sleeping patterns you can then learn to adjust them so that you get on an optimal sleep schedule.

When you sleep, your body and your brain rejuvenates itself.  If you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t give your body or your mind enough time to fully recover. The average person needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night. The average American gets 6.8 hours of sleep per night which puts them in a “sleep debt.” Being in a constant sleep debt is basically living a sleep deprived life. If you actually do get the 7.5 hours per night, you will have more energy, think clearer, handle your emotions more intelligently, and just be more productive in general. Basically, you would be a better you!

5. Take “Me Time”

“Me Time” is any activity that you love to do. It can be almost anything that you really get into. For example, some people find exercising to be a great “me time” as they become enveloped in the activity without thinking about the outside clutter of the world. Reading a book, taking a bath, watching a movie, sitting in a room or house by yourself in silence, going to dinner with friends are some other examples of “me time.”

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Most people have trouble getting “me time” in this busy world. For those who do have trouble finding time, I suggest scheduling it.  Taking “me time” reduces stress and allows you to really understand and appreciate who you are. I suggest scheduling a couple small “me times” per day, even if it is 5 minutes in a room by yourself relaxing. If golfing is one of your “me times”, make sure to get out once a week. If exercising is your time, do it several times a week. You get the picture…make sure to get your “me time!”

6. Listen Up!

Mindful listening is one of the coolest things you can adopt into your life. You will be amazed at some of the things you learn from not only what you hear people say, but also about who is saying them. An example of normal listening is when you are talking with someone, they’re speaking, and you are thinking about what you are going to say next. Mindful listening is where you listen without that chatter in your head. When you listen intently by paying attention on purpose to what is being said, it is a great learning experience, as well as a mindful exercise. Another great advantage of mindful listening is the relationship that you will build with the other person. They will respect the fact that you are listening which ultimately increases your relationship and trust with that person. Try it with the next person you speak with…it will amaze you!

7.  Don’t Forget to Breathe!

Breathing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to reduce your anxiety, stress and put you in a better mood. The great thing about breathing is you can do it anywhere, anytime, and you can do it in as little as 60 seconds! One minute of a breathing exercise can take you from stressed out, too “I can handle this.”

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An easy but effective exercise is box breathing. This is where you concentrate on your breathing for at least 60 seconds. You breathe in with a count of 4, you then hold for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4. You then repeat this for about a minute, or as long as you wish. During the exercise you pay attention to your breath and body as the air fills your lungs on the inhale and slowly releases as you exhale. This exercise will not only relax you, but helps you become more focused and mindful in general.

If you adopt these seven mindful habits, I guarantee you will have the best year of your life! It starts out with a single step. Don’t try and jump in thinking you will become the mindful master right away. Goals and habit development are like staircases. You don’t come to a staircase, take one step and you’re at the top. Just like goals you set for yourself, you need to take baby steps in each of these mindful habits and eventually you will reach the top. Mindfully adopt these 7 habits into your daily routines and you will be amazed at where you are 365 days from now.

Featured photo credit: lzf 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)

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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