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6 Signs You Haven’t Made Self-Care Your Top Priority

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6 Signs You Haven’t Made Self-Care Your Top Priority

To get ahead in this busy world, you have to put your own needs on the backburner once in a while.

But that doesn’t mean you should keep them there until they start to boil over.

No matter how giving of a person you are, you should always be looking out for number one. Above all else, this means admitting you’re a human being with certain needs that must be met before anything (and anyone) else.

There’s no shame in that. Acknowledging that you’re not a superhero is humbling, and it’s also healthy. It allows you to operate with a realistic outlook on life, with the understanding that there will often be times in which you’re completely powerless, and the best thing you can do is simply look out for yourself.

1. You Skip or Neglect Your Basic Needs

Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes it clear: Neglecting the importance of self care will eventually destroy you.

On a day-to-day basis you might not see a problem with skipping breakfast because you’re running late, but when doing so becomes habitual you’ll be missing out on vital nutrients that keep you energized throughout the day.

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Similarly, you might try to delude yourself into thinking you can run on four hours of sleep, but over the course of just one week you’ll end up missing an entire 24 hours of rest.

If you’re skipping meals or losing sleep, you’re not going to be able to work to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, even if you’ve been sacrificing your own well being for your job or career, the only thing your boss will notice is this decrease in performance.

Keep up with your basic needs so you can attend to the things in life that require a higher level of focus.

2. You’re Always on Autopilot

Whether you call it the rat race or the hamster wheel, getting stuck in a vicious cycle of eating, sleeping, working, and repeating is dehumanizing.

When each and every day is so exhausting that all you can do is take care of the basics, you’re not really living, at all. You’re simply going through the motions as if you’re a robot programmed only to serve.

But you’re a human being. You need time to sit back and fulfill your emotional needs. You need to spend time in deep thought. You need to experience life and the world around you instead of letting it all pass you by.

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Even robots need to recharge once in a while.

3. You’re Always Doing Something for Someone Else

There’s nothing wrong with being a giving person. Lending a helping hand to others is what builds relationships and communities, and keeps the human race striving for peace.

On the other hand, giving too much of yourself will eventually lead others to start taking advantage. When people see you’re willing to bend over backwards for them, they’ll test the limits and see how far you’ll go before you snap. The worst part is, since you’re such a giving individual, you won’t even realize they’re taking advantage of you until you’re too invested in their needs to back out.

The best thing you can do is to just say “no” sometimes. Recognize when others are asking too much of you, and simply tell them you can’t help them right now. Showing a little backbone in the present will save you from snapping in the future.

4. You’ve Lost Touch with Friends and Family

When was the last time you spent time with the people you actually care about?

When you’re too giving of yourself, you end up spending way too much time dedicated to coworkers, colleagues, and bosses who mean absolutely nothing to you on a personal level. Unfortunately, this means the relationships you do care about end up suffering.

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While you do have certain duties at work and in life that need to be fulfilled, none of them can compare to the duty you have to yourself and your loved ones. Which are you more likely to remember in ten years: The times you stayed late at the office to get a head start on some paperwork, or the times you spent playing catch with your kids in the backyard?

5. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Had Fun

Speaking of playing catch, when is the last time you forgot all about your earthly worries and just had fun?

If you really can’t remember, something is definitely wrong.

Many of us fall under the impression that “fun” is something kids have before they enter the real world, at which point your life consists of work, work, work. Some of us mistakenly define ourselves by the amount of work we do and the sacrifices we make.

We all make sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean our entire lives should be dedicated to making money and slaving away behind a desk. We should work to be able to enjoy the times we have away from our jobs.

Spend some time doing what you love. Go for a hike. Grab some ice cream. Hit some balls at the driving range. Do whatever you can that, for at least a short period of time, helps you remember what it’s like to be a kid again. You’ll thank yourself for it.

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6. You Don’t Feel Like Yourself Anymore

This is it, right here:

Neglecting the importance of self care can lead to you truly forgetting who you are. What your dreams and goals were. What you always thought your purpose in life was.

And it’s incredibly disheartening.

When you no longer know why you’re getting out of bed in the morning. When you go through your day looking forward to sitcom reruns at night. When you can’t even enjoy those sitcoms because you know the next day will be more of the same.

When this realization hits you, you need to take action immediately. Take some time for yourself. Figure out what you need to do to get back on track in life. Whether this is a change in careers, or a weekend away with your loved ones, do whatever it takes to start feeling like “you” again.

Otherwise, what’s the point in living?

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More by this author

Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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