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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy

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How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy

We live in a society where it is important to fit in. Leading a positive and happy life is highly valued and feeling sad or “blue” about life is not so valued. As a result, we are constantly trying to always be positive and happy. In our minds there is no room for sadness.

This is not a realistic way to live life.

Telling yourself to be positive is no help to you because your sadness when it hits you has a life of its own. Keeping up an impression of positivity and happiness when you are feeling sad is draining and hard work. If anything this charade will intensify your feelings of sadness, and you will struggle to find the pathway that will lead you to living a happy, resilient life.

I believe that sadness is a base line feeling that feeds into all of our other feelings such as anger, frustration and fear. The deeper we bury the feeling of sadness the harder it is to feel happy.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Carl Jung

The 5 key strategies below are practical ways for you to successfully manage sadness in your life so you that can have a life that flows with happiness.

1. Recognize Your Type of Sadness

There are 3 types of sadness that most of us fall into:

Short-Term Sadness

This is a passing mood that may last anything from a day to a week. Sometimes there is a reason for this feeling but sometimes there is not.

Generally lack of sleep, no physical activity and excess stress are associated with this sadness.

The best approach to dealing with this sadness is to lower your stress level by having a few nights of great sleep, getting active by doing some exercise and looking at ways to break up your routine.

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Pampering your self, going for a massage, reducing alcohol intake and eating healthy food are effective ways to manage short-term sadness.

Trigger Sadness

This feeling of sadness has been activated as a result of a traumatic event that has happened to you, such as the death of someone close to you, losing your job, divorce or financial ruin.

This feeling of sadness can make you feel helpless and vulnerable and it does not go away overnight. The key to managing trigger sadness is looking for ways to support you to process these feelings and not bury them.

One way for you to manage these deep feelings of sadness is to talk about and share your feelings with someone who can console you, support you and counsel you. Having a supportive network of family and friends is key to you managing your feelings of sadness.

It is also wise to get professional support such as a councillor or therapist to guide you through practical steps to processing your feelings of sadness.

Along with these key actions and actively working on reducing the general stress levels in your life, you will find that after a period of 3 to 6 months, you will be back at a baseline feeling of happiness. This is where you start to rebuild and strengthen your foundations in life – your physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

Depression

If you feel sad, hopeless, helpless, unable to eat or sleep and have no energy for a period of time of more than one month or two, then you are likely to feeling depressed.

Depression is usually set off as a result of event that usually you would cope with. However, for some reason, your coping mechanism has broken down.

Depression is complicated and it can vary from person to person. If you have these feelings, then it is wise that you seek the advice of a doctor.

The strategies presented in the rest of this article can along with specialist support enable you to live a happy fulfilled life.

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2. Identify What Happiness Means To You

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”  — Mary Anne Roadacher-Hershey

Happiness is the only cure for sadness. There is no other cure that works better. It sounds so easy to say however it is not so easy to achieve.

At its most basic level, happiness is a feeling that comes about as a result of us doing things in our lives that we love to do.

So if we are feeling sad, then we should take action and activities that brings a joy such as catching up with a friend, going for a walk, getting a massage, goimg out to dinner, going to the movies, or hiding away to read a good book. The list of activities that we can do that make us feel happy is extensive.

The first thing you need to do is identify what activities that you do or would like to do that bring you joy and make you feel happy.

When we feel sad, we are more likely to want to withdraw and not do anything. We tend to disengage from everything that is going on around us.

The only way we can start to feel happy is to take action and start doing things.

We can never avoid the feelings of sadness, hurt or disappointment. However, we can deal with them in constructive ways that will help avoid excessive suffering.

It is so important to know what happiness means to you because when you know this, you will have meaning and purpose in your life. This is what brings to your life the feeling of happiness and the experiences of joy.

3. Commit To Practising These 3 Actions of Happiness Daily

When you are feeling sad, you are more likely to want to avoid people.

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These 3 actions of happiness are very practical ways in which you take action to move away from feeling sad to feeling more joyous. All it takes is for you make a choice, take action and commit to consistently doing these actions of happiness.

Gratitude

Expressing gratitude on a daily basis and actively appreciating those people in your life who are important to you are very simple yet, powerful actions that will take you from a place of sadness to a more joyful place.

Acceptance

Accepting the things that you cannot change and acting on the things that you can change are key to you finding joy and peace in your life. Once you acknowledge the reality of your situation, you can then plan to take effective action that will enable you to move forward to a better place in your life.

Acts of Kindness

When you are feeling sad, your focus is very inward at self. Helping others is a great way to feel better about you. It is often the spontaneous acts of kindness that give us the most joy.

The more we help others and the more we interact and engage with people the less we tend to withdraw and focus inwardly on our feelings of sadness.

Happiness and joy are external feelings that need to be shared with others and an act of kindness is an effective way for us to share and feel joy with others.

4. Commit To Cultivating Your Personal Wellbeing

When you accept sadness in your life, your personal wellbeing will suffer.

Happiness is more than a feeling; it is a longer lasting state that is called your wellbeing. Your wellbeing encompasses your state of your mind, body and emotions.

When all is in balance, then you will experience contentment and peace of mind. You are more emotionally agile and physically resilient; and therefore more effective at managing the challenges that life will throw at you.

Commit to making your wellbeing your top priority in your life. When you do this you become more effective at managing sadness in your life.

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5. Eliminate The Phrase – I Will Be Happy When…..

Sudden happiness does not exist and the phrase “I will be happy when…” indicates that happiness comes when you get what it is you believe will make you happy.

Many people think that if they win the Lottery, then they will be happy – this is not true. In a consumer driven society of today, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing your happiness to the material gains and success of others.

Be careful that you don’t equate happiness with momentary pleasure because if you do, you will eventually feel conflicted and discontent. It is these feelings will take you to a place of sadness.

Final Thoughts

Focus on looking for ways where you create a life where happiness is a feeling that you have total responsibility for – no one else, just you.

When you have created a life where you have attained this, then the phrase “I will be happy when…” is eliminated from your vocabulary.

How sad we feel and the reasons why we feel sad is different for everyone. The one thing we all have in common however, is that it is impossible for us to go from feeling sad to feeling happy instantly.

The above five strategies are practical ways that support you to manage your feelings of sadness where you are in control and empowered to choose to how you want to feel and how you want to live your life. Let’s hope you choose – happiness.

“If you look to others for fulfilment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.” — Lao Tzu

More Articles About Pursuing Happiness

Featured photo credit: Brittani Burns via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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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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