I’m very aware of the fact that I’m an over-thinker. I literally drive myself crazy sometimes worrying and thinking, and it’s usually about the littlest, dumbest things too. The fact is though, it’s just not healthy. Being aware of your over-thinking is the key to keeping it under control and keeping yourself sane. Here are 6 signs that you may be an over-thinker and tips on how to stop worrying so much!
1. You have trouble falling asleep
Your body is tired, but you find yourself tossing and turning. We are all culprits of it- thinking about the day’s occurrences, or worrying about what tomorrow will bring, and not getting enough sleep will only makes matters worse.
Meditation, even in its’ simplest form, will help clear our minds. Take a few moments to lie in bed and focus on the good things that occurred that day. Be thankful for those good things. Think about the funny joke you heard on your lunch break, or the dinner your spouse cooked so you didn’t have to. Tell yourself that you are going to let go of the worry for right now. Tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day and you are going to make the best of it. The power of relaxation and positive thinking will help to ease your mind and allow a good night’s rest.
2. You wake up to worry
So you’ve manage to fall asleep and make it through the night, but now it’s morning. You’ve barely rolled over and already worry pops into your head. Waking up to heavy, stressful thoughts is the worst way to start your day, and many people will agree that a bad morning will make for an entire bad day.
Much like #1, don’t get out of bed until you’ve given yourself a pep talk. Let your body lie still for a few moments and tell yourself that it’s going to be a great day. Tell yourself that you can handle the challenges that the day may bring. Take notice of the sunlight peeking through your curtains. Focus for a moment on the birds chirping outside or the sound of your children waking in the background. Decide right then and there to not carry these worrisome thoughts around the entire day.
3. You’re often emotional or angry
You have a hard time making it through the day without a meltdown and overflow of tears. You find yourself just snapping and the littlest things and overreacting like an emotional train wreck. Sounds like you need some ‘me’ time!
Fit some time into your schedule to pamper and take care of yourself in the ways that make you most relaxed and happy. If you enjoy nature, get out for a walk. Buy the new dress or boots you’ve been wanting. Treat yourself to a triple scoop ice cream cone. Allow yourself to cry over sad songs if that’s what you need. Get in touch with your best friend; you know that guy or gal can always make you laugh! Maintain regular visits with a therapist if expert advice is required.
4. You blame yourself
Your daughter failed her test because you forgot to help her study the night before. Your spouse didn’t have breakfast that morning because you overslept. There are no clean bath towels because you neglected to keep up on laundry. Cavity? Because you didn’t floss enough. Out of milk? Because you were too lazy to run to the store.
You cannot carry the weight of the world on your shoulders! We are human. We make mistakes. We are only capable of handling so much at one time. Perhaps it’s time to delegate tasks to other family members to help ease your worries. You do a lot, but can’t do it all, and instead of blaming yourself for things gone wrong, pat yourself on the back for things gone right.
5. You scrutinize people’s words and facial expressions
You walk away from the cashier’s checkout line wondering if he was looking at you funny. You thought for sure that couple behind you was laughing at your shoes. You could swear that the lady was just being sarcastic when she complimented your hair.
Nine times out of ten, it’s just in our heads. Don’t let these little insecurities get in your way. We shouldn’t worry ourselves thinking about some ‘hidden agenda’ in everyone’s comments or facial expressions. Whether the lady’s compliment was genuine or not, smile and say “thank you”, and then let it go. Don’t let your thoughts stray any more than that. Besides, your hair was looking pretty rad that day!
6. Your thoughts are consumed by bills
Unless you’re a recent lottery winner, it would be fair to say that most of us worry about bills. Let’s face it, bills suck, but they are a part of a life. They come every month and worrying about them won’t make them go away.
Maybe it’s time to sit down and rewrite your budget plan. Maybe it’s time to rethink what’s really necessary and try to eliminate the things that aren’t. Perhaps a temporary part-time job is needed to help pay a few things off. Sometimes even calling the companies to get an extension or set up on a payment plan will help to ease your worries.
Over-thinking and worrying to some extent is normal human nature. Life isn’t always easy and we all at some point have too much on our plate. We need to recognize our worries and be conscious of ways to ease them. Find ways that work best for you on how to stop worrying so much and practice them regularly. It will help you to maintain good health, a clear mind, and a loving heart.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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: