Dating can be fun sometimes‒meeting new people, going out to new places, feeling the excitement of a potential new relationship. But be honest‒do you really enjoy it? Do you like the stress of figuring out where to go, how to dress, and what to talk about? Do you have fun while you’re struggling to make it through dinner without climbing out the bathroom window? Do you laugh while waiting for the second date call?
Exactly. It’s just not fun after a certain point. But don’t feel like you’re settling down when you find that special someone. Relationships don’t have to be boring! In fact, being in a relationship makes your life better and healthier! Here’s why.
1. You act less selfishly.
How many times have you been too tired to cook dinner for yourself? I’m raising my hand. But knowing my sweetie also had a long day lights a fire inside of me, and I’m willing to go above and beyond just to make him feel good. Being in a relationship makes you think about someone other than yourself‒which isn’t limited to just your partner! Considering the feelings of one person in particular leads you to think about the feelings of others in general‒which is a benefit for you and everyone around you!
2. Your stress levels are lowered.
Having your partner by your side means you have someone to carry some of the weight of your life. If you’re having a busy day, your partner can help you out with the chores when you get home. If something’s weighing on your mind, you have someone to talk with. Don’t forget about how stressful it is to go to a party or a bar and feel like you have to catch someone’s eye. You have your partner by your side or waiting for you at home. There’s no pressure to meet someone and impress them. In fact, being in a committed relationship has been shown to hinder the production of a stress hormone called cortisol!
3. Your risk of depression is reduced.
One of the major starting points of depression is feeling alone. When you’re with your sweetie, you’re not alone! Just knowing you have someone there for you makes you feel happier. You have someone to talk to, someone to cuddle with, someone for the good times and the bad.
4. You feel happier.
Common sense, right? There’s less stress, less depression, of course, you’re happier! There are even scientific studies that show married people being happier and living longer than their unmarried peers. That doesn’t mean you need to go tie the knot today, and it doesn’t mean that being single is a crime, but from a health standpoint, it just makes sense.
5. You feel invincible.
OK, not really. But you’ll certainly feel like it. You know that all-over good feeling you get when you’re happy in a relationship? That’s your body releasing the love hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin not only makes you feel good; it also boosts your immune system so you’re less likely to get sick, and your wounds heal faster. Love might not actually be a drug, but it certainly can feel like the best one!
6. You feel like someone gets you.
How many times have you and your partner said the same thing at the same moment, gotten each other the perfect gift without a wish list, or exclaimed “That’s exactly what I was thinking!” It’s fun, right? And more than fun, it means they can tell when you’re happy or sad, and act accordingly to help you blow off some steam and feel better. Having someone who knows you deeply is an amazing feeling.
7. You learn about yourself.
It seems like being in a relationship means you’ll learn about your partner, right? And you will. But in that time, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself. You’ll see how you act with someone else, or how considerate you are. You might learn about some hidden good things, and they might make you a better person and turn your life around. But you’re definitely going to learn bad things. Thankfully, these too can make you a better person and help you turn your life around. Every bad quality you have is going to come out in a relationship, but once you learn about it, you can address it and remedy the issue. Knowing yourself makes you a better person‒and a better person to be in a relationship with.
8. Your world is expanded.
Being in a relationship means you get to hear about your partner’s interests. You’ll be exposed to new authors, musicians, and movies‒and you’ll already know they’re good! You get to meet new friends to talk and hang out with, and you’ll meet his family and hopefully become close with them (or at least realize yours isn’t that bad!).
9. You learn to compromise.
In a relationship, you have to share. You share living space, dinner plans, and nights out with friends. You split holidays with families. You learn how to give a little and how to get a little. This makes you a better person because you’re showing your love, you’re showing your flexibility, and you’re showing that you care enough to work together. A bonus is that this talent will come in handy in other areas of your life‒especially in your career!
10. You can stay healthy together.
Sure, all of these tips make you see how your life is better and healthier with a partner. But what about actually getting healthier with your partner? You have someone to join a gym with, to go on runs around the neighborhood with, or to inspire you to work out in the living room. Having a partner can be the best motivation for a workout.
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: