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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

9 Happy Habits That Will Change Your Outlook and Your Life

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9 Happy Habits That Will Change Your Outlook and Your Life

From how you wake up in the morning, to the work you do, to the food you eat, our behaviors are a reflection of our mood and state of mind. How we respond to circumstances and situations creates a ripple effect and then a change or a consequence.

And everyday, we’re making tons of decisions, forming or sticking to habits and trying to cultivate a positive mindset in the process. Our habits make changes in our lives, some good, some not so good.

We live in a world where a lot of negative, scary, questionable, and often times, crazy things happen. We’re constantly consumed by what’s being said on the news, on social media, or on the radio, and it can be difficult not to internalize it all.

Our brains take in so much information at the speed of light and try to process the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Our habits shape us and affect our perspective on the things that happen to us.

It’s important to adopt happy habits that will allow you to be calm in your mind. Each day, especially if you live with depression and anxiety, mental health or self check-ins will be most beneficial for you. During these check-ins, you can do anything that you find enjoyable.

Happy habits are powerful enough to bring you joy, which is everlasting.

Adopting happy habits will strengthen your thoughts and how you respond to life events or transitions. So, here are 9 happy habits you can include that will radically shift your mindset and outlook on life.

1. Go on Nature Walks

Even in the winter time, I will go outside regardless of how cold it is, and spend time walking in nature. I’ve made this habit of doing nature walks, listening to my footsteps, breathing in fresh air, or marveling at wildlife.

Where I live, a lot of deer congregate (and lately, wild turkeys) in the wilderness amid my home. If I am having a stressful or hard day, I will focus on sounds outside. I focus on all of my senses. Calmness eases my thoughts.

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Recently, I’ve been going through difficult transitions and found myself relying on this time in the woods. The smell of burning leaves instantly relaxes me. Not sure why, but I’ve loved the burning maple smell since I was a kid.

2. Do a Creative Activity (That You Don’t Feel the Need to Share Online)

You don’t have to be creative to do something creative. Try coloring in those adult coloring books if your thoughts are driving you mad. Those Sudoku puzzles or word searches are things I like to do to take my mind off of the stress induced by daily life.

By doing puzzle-like activities, the mind goes quiet. Thoughts will fade and if something is bothering you, some kind of activity can change your perspective.

Doing things that get your creative juices flowing will open your mind to solutions to problems in all areas of your life.

Don’t think you’re a creative person? You can definitely change that with this.

3. 15 Minutes of Cleaning Each Day

If you spend only fifteen minutes a day cleaning, picking up your living room, kitchen or bedroom, you’ll immediately set yourself up for a stress-free day.

When I started devoting fifteen minutes each night to cleaning, I’ve been able to make more time for cultivating those happy habits that boost my mental health.

Cleaning can feel like a therapy or a meditation. Keeping your living environment in order will allow for more time to accomplish work tasks or other obligations.

4. 10 Minutes of Silence

Just ten minutes of silence or solitude can work wonders on your mental and emotional well-being. In those ten minutes, simply sit somewhere comfortable with your eyes closed and do breathing exercises. You could also do a brief self-hypnosis if you’re feeling particularly flustered or stressed.

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Make your own routine with this ten minutes of silence. I do my best work when I’ve had this time of quiet. It’s a way to add balance to your day and it’s a small thing you can do that’ll benefit you in the long run.

5. Try Journaling

At the end of every day, (I’ve been talking and writing about this type of journaling for years), keep a daily journal or a log of what you did that day and need to do the next.

If you’re someone who is hard on yourself or puts a lot of pressure on yourself, this type of writing will reshape your thinking about how you’re doing in life. It’s a way of dumping your workload on paper and seeing it for what it is, how simple and straightforward it is.

If you’ve got a truckload to do or there are things you’re forgetting to do, keeping a log will lift the weights off your shoulders and ease the stress and tension on your mind. It will restructure your brain and mind by keeping your emotions in tact so you can function at your highest level. It will also help you stay on track at the same time.

And a bonus: You’ll be less forgetful and know what you need to do to reach the finish line of work or other things that need attention.

Learn more about Why You Should Keep A Journal And How To Get Started.

6. Stretch for 15 Minutes Each Day or Night

For three years straight, and still, I’ve made this happy habit stick: fifteen minutes of stretching.

You don’t have to do yoga or twist yourself into a pretzel. I am talking about easy stretching anybody can do.

The habit of daily stretching will target your body, help you sleep better, and ease the tightness, strain or tension in your muscles.

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All of my stress sits on top of my shoulders and in my back, so I’ll spend fifteen minutes doing light or deep stretching to relax and unwind. You’ll feel lighter in your thoughts and mind when your body is feeling good.

The benefits of stretching range from fighting fatigue, insomnia, and eliminating stress. If you want to change your outlook and your life, focusing on how you’re feeling physically is a good place to start.

7. Make Small Salads Daily

Food is happiness, and how you eat affects the way you feel. It’s okay to splurge on a cupcake or cookies once and again but, studies now show that sugar, gluten and dairy contribute to depression and anxiety. They can overtax your system and result in severe fatigue or a crash of some kind.

I challenged myself to make a habit of preparing small, bowl-size salads (which takes me five minutes to make and does not require Masterchef skills). I select three vegetables and one fruit with spinach or something green.

Since I’ve been making salads each day, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my overall mood. Clean eating promotes happiness and this is a great habit to include in your regimen.

8. Volunteer or Give Your Time to a Cause

I’ve made a commitment to volunteer at my local art museum as often as my schedule allows. And let me tell you, my schedule is constantly slammed and jammed. But when I volunteer, I feel calmer and happier being away from the tedious artistic design work I do.

While I love my job, volunteering and giving to others has been extremely uplifting, fulfilling and enriching. You’ll find yourself feeling calmer, less rushed, and with more opportunities to enjoy others and life.

9. Take an Enrichment Class

If you can, get involved in the community and do an enrichment class such as cooking, sewing, yoga, a book club, or arts and crafts.

A lot of communities even have programs for people in their work field that are fun. For example, if you work in the I.T. field and would like to be more creative, you can take an enrichment class that introduces you to more avenues in your field or skills to expand on.

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Try something outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s once a month. There are people I know who work forty hours a week that still find the time to go to an enrichment program. Someone I know takes time out of their lunch hour to play basketball and exercise so they can return to their work with fresh eyes.

Doing things like that as well will break up your day and make you look forward to getting back to work.

The Bottom Line

To sustain a healthy mindset, you must take time for yourself and nourish your mind daily. Lifestyle practices such as mindful meditation, planting your feet on the ground and focusing on your breathing, or meditative walking produce calmness. Getting enough sunlight fuels the brain, boosts the production of serotonin, and hearing nature sounds intervenes in negative thinking.

When creating new habits, make sure to ask yourself how they will affect your health or outlook on life in the long-term. If there are habits you’re trying to let go of that sabotage your happiness, replace them with small habits.

The idea is to not put pressure on yourself, and instead, to explore and grow.

The change shouldn’t terrify you; it should spark inspiration and put you on a more fulfilling and purposeful path.

More About Pursuing Happiness

Featured photo credit: Patrick Carr via unsplash.com

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Tessa Koller

Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

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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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