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How to Have the Best Spring With Your Pets

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How to Have the Best Spring With Your Pets

Spring will soon dawn upon us. We will enter the next phase in the circle of life and leap into the new year. Each season represents a new state of being: spring means growth and prosperity; summer means to live, laugh, and breathe; autumn means to endure and reflect; winter means to be patient and move forward.

As excited as we are for the change in seasons, so are our pets. Finally, they get to run around in the yard or the park without having to worry about the cold or slipping on ice. Any day now, they’ll be able to park themselves in the backyard and snooze in the warmth of the sun. It’s a perfect setting for all pets, from guinea pigs to large dogs!

So how can you make this time of year the best spring for your pets and how can you have the best spring with your pets? If you are bored of the same routine of going on walks or runs with your pets and hope to plan for something more exciting and fun to do with your best pet friend, look no further. Here are a few tips you can use to spice things up with your pet friend(s) this spring:

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1. Have a Picnic in a New Spot

Picnics are a common activity that we all do during the spring while taking advantage of the warm sunshine and the fresh new blooms. The liveliness of spring is contagious for all. Most of the time, we prefer going to the nearest park or recreational area that is right around the corner from where we live to indulge in sunny weather and picnic behavior. Therefore, the act itself can become pretty repetitive and eventually get boring. If spring is all about growth and progress, why not change your scenery?

Take your picnic lunch, your pets, and head somewhere close to the countryside. Enjoy a day there and allow your pets to explore the nature based on their own instincts. While cats prefer being indoors, dogs love the outdoor sun. Surprisingly, time spent outside could still be beneficial to them both. Case in point, being able to breath fresh outside air might be perfect for your feline friend and running around the land to explore the new scenery might increase your dog’s dopamine levels and keep them healthier and happier, a benefit to them both.

Plus, constantly keeping them active and energized reduces their chance of mortality and increases their metabolism and keeps your dogs nice and fit.

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2. Pick an Endurance Activity

Humans and animals have various similarities. We are all born very intuitive, however, as humans, we prefer logic over intuition. We are also gifted with a great passion for succeeding. This, among other reasons, is why we bond closely to our pets and why we sometimes sense they relate to us. It’s an incredibly unique feeling and one that lends itself to our shared enjoyment of endurance sports. Who better to experience endurance sports with than your pets?

Go for a hike or a slow bike ride. Hiking is usually the best because your pets can exercise their animal instincts unhinged while you guide them.[1] Of course, you will not be speaking the same language, but you will be connecting on a different level, a connection purely based on emotion and understanding.

Some might argue that these activities are not for all pets, however, as long as you’re not trying to take a pet snake up a mountain or swim with a leash on your goldfish, then you’re fine. Typical house pets, such as cats and dogs, are ordinarily used to the wild because they are born hunters. Thus, this trip will challenge their senses while being physically and mentally stimulating for them.

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3. Go on a Camping Trip

Camping is fun and is an exciting way that we get back to the basics. Although camping has now taken a bit of a modern twist to fit our standards and lifestyle, it’s always best to return to the bare necessities when possible, enjoying your time without the internet and fully embracing nature. A camping trip is always fun when there’s a large group of people or, in our case, a large number of pets.

Some might find this intimidating. However, if your pets are well-trained, then you can definitely have tons of fun exploring and having adventures with them. This will also allow your pets to bond with you and your friends, for them to identify their scent and feel comfortable. For animals, sometimes it’s harder to adapt compared to humans, so a group activity allows your pets to bond with you in their presence.

Remember for you pets, no one else matters but you.

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4. Have a Family Cookout Session

Spring is the perfect time for outdoor grilling. It’s the perfect time to have all your family members together and for a family with a new addition at home (a new pet or a new baby). It’s also a great time to induce the bonding session between all involved. Food brings us together, no matter the species, so spring and a cookout are the perfect way to bring a family closer together.

If you have a new baby, allow your pet to be close to him or her and to get a sense of feeling protective. Give your baby the time to touch, feel, and start accepting the baby as its company. Pets usually reduce the stress of a new parent by 20%, as they help keep the baby company and help reduce how much they cry.

On the other hand, if you have a new pet that’s joining your family, it will be the perfect time to let the pet bond with everyone in the family, especially if that pet has been adopted. They’re probably much more cautious and afraid of strangers so having a social gathering allows them to retreat when they need to, but also gives them the comfort of being part of the family.

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Sometimes, just like humans, our pets need the sense of assurance too. To feel at home, to be loved, to have fun, and to create memories. They dream just as we do, so it is our job to ensure they’re having the best dreams.

Featured photo credit: Google Images via itsaheartfullife.com

Reference

[1] Online Casino Reports: Animal Instinct

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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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