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8 Ways To Keep Calm Even If You Are Seriously Nervous.

8 Ways To Keep Calm Even If You Are Seriously Nervous.

Public speaking. Bungee jumping. Confronting a tough customer. These are just some instances which can bring chills to spines and sweat to palms.

It’s normal to feel nervous before or in the midst of an undertaking. What separates the mediocre from the remarkable is the ability to perform despite the nerves. And these are some ways to stay calm in nervous situations.

1. Acknowledge and decide

There’s no point pretending that the nerves aren’t there when you feel crippled by it. Identify it, acknowledge it and come to terms with it.

Even the best athletes feel nervous during race day. Even top notch influential speakers experience some chills before facing the crowd.

Remind yourself that it’s perfectly alright to feel nervous before taking the leap – you are human after all. However, don’t just stop there. Decide in your head that you would not allow your nerves to get the better of you.

2. Segmenting

One technique which the U.S Navy SEALs employ to thrive and operate in high-stakes and high-stress environments is segmenting, which is simply to break down a seemingly daunting task into more digestible and manageable bits.

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A former SEAL talked about how he used segmenting to get through hell week (one of the most arduous and grueling military training in the world in which trainees get no more than 4 hours of sleep over 5 and a half days): Instead of seeing how he would get through the entire day, he encouraged and committed himself to just make it through to breakfast time, then lunch time, and then dinner time.

Thus, whenever you face an overwhelming task that’s driving you nervous, break it down and work through it one bit at a time.

3. Mental rehearsals and visualization

Imagine yourself having to deliver a presentation in front of your company of 100 employees. You haven’t really spoken in public that often and you’re not even sure if you are the most eloquent or charismatic speaker in the room.

You get nervous. Extremely nervous.

At this point, many would think that everything would just fail and crumble before their very eyes – they trip while getting on stage, the projector explodes, members of the audience jeer and throw office staplers at them.

Don’t go down that path. Do something totally different.

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Perform mental rehearsals of yourself delivering a confident and compelling speech. Don’t just practice your address physically, but visualize yourself doing it in your head as well.

4. Scenario planning

In my 2 and a half years in the military, we were taught how to respond to different scenarios when we were, for instance, doing a patrol on a street or clearing a building.

The key to scenario planning is to anticipate the different scenarios which might occur and then decide your course of action when that particular scenario happens. The important thing is to decide what you are going to do even before that scenario happens, so that when it actually occurs, your response would be second nature.

For example, if we kicked down the door when storming a building, we already know how to react if an enemy pops up from a corner – we would react accordingly without hesitation. We just don’t have time to consider our options on the spot when something happens – it might be too late.

Back to the company presentation, anticipate what might possibly go wrong and come up with your course of action if it does. What do you do when you suddenly forget your points? You could have some flashcards in your pocket. What do you do when the laptop fails? You could have a spare one on standby or have a plan to proceed without using it.

5. Begin with the end in mind

When you step onto the stage to deliver your presentation, what is your ultimate purpose? What are you achieving? Why are you doing the presentation in the first place?

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Decide on your purpose and objective and keep your eyes on it. Everything else is just noise and distraction.

6. Controlled breathing techniques

It’s interesting that our body affects our minds and vice versa. When you think of fear, you end up feeling frightened. When you make yourself smile, you tend to improve your overall mood.

People who are nervous usually take short and shallow breaths. And such breathing patterns only serve to keep them nervous.

What you could do is to deliberately control your breathing by adopting what I call the 4x4x4 breathing technique.

Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds (you can count by saying in your head one-thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand, four-thousand), exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, and then repeat that cycle for 3 more times.

7. Adopt a confident posture

Amy Cuddy’s TED talk sheds light on how our posture affects our confidence levels. She says that adopting a “power pose” – standing with your arms on your hips like Wonder Woman or your arms stretched wide – can make you feel more confident and assertive.

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When you are about to do something and you feel the nerves, go to somewhere private and take just 2 minutes to adopt a confident posture. Once done, head back out and get going!

8. Focus on the work, not the nerves

Last but not least, sometimes the best way to overcome the nerves is to take action instead of waiting for the nerves to go away.

When doing a public presentation, take a bold step forward and give the best speech you have ever given. When confronting a tough customer, pick up the phone, make the call and say what you need to say.

Don’t focus on the nerves. Focus on the work you need to do. Don’t forget why you are doing that task in the first place. Hold on to your true purpose and go for gold – the nerves don’t stand a chance!

Featured photo credit: Alex Wong via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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