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10 Surprising Facts Affecting Your Mood That You Never Thought About

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10 Surprising Facts Affecting Your Mood That You Never Thought About

“To understand me, you have to meet me and be around me. And then only if I’m in a good mood- don’t meet me in a bad mood.” – Avril Lavigne

You would be surprised at what can affect your mood. Apart from the big and obvious ones like the weather, bad news or a break up, there are some sneaky ones that can affect your mood. Watch out for these 10 and learn how to turn them to your advantage.

1. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark

Poor sleep quality can put you in a bad mood for the whole day and everyone around you suffers. The key is, of course, light pollution. When a friend of mine bought black out curtains for his room, I was inclined to see it as a mere fad. But I was proved wrong because studies show that light pollution can really disturb your sleep. It interferes with the production of melatonin which is the essential for restful slumber. Actually, I should know because I often fall asleep with my bedside lamp on!

2.  Is your clutter upsetting you?

See what happens when clutter gets in the way. You tend to multitask and your focus goes into a stop and go mode. This affects you in many negative ways:

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  • Frustration builds up as you cannot find things.
  • Production is badly affected.
  • Time is wasted.
  • Mental fatigue sets in.

No prizes for guessing that you will be in a bad mood after all that searching and rebooting. One of the best solutions is to devote a few minutes a day at a set time to start getting rid of all that clutter or putting it in some order. Some studies show that if the objects are of a sentimental value, it is better not to touch them as this reinforces the emotional hold they have on you. Ask a friend or partner to help you here.

3. Facebook again!

Yes, it is true. All those great images and funny videos that your so called friends are posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is just stoking the fires of envy inside you. As if that was not bad enough, your self esteem will sink and you will feel down. Limit your time on Facebook and watch a funny video, read a book or just listen to music. None of these activities requires any one-upmanship.

4. Stay away from negative people

“Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around.” – Bill Watterson

You know those family members or friends who always complain that life has dealt them a really rough deal. Everything is wrong, bad and corrupt. It is contagious and toxic. Listening to that sort of stuff will affect your mood and you should try to steer towards confident, cheerful and positive people who will uplift and encourage you. Protect your emotional immune system.

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5. Limit your media time

I must confess that I watch very little news bulletins these days on TV and try and reduce online news as well. The sheer misery, injustice and cruelty of human trafficking upsets me the most. I know that we will have to abolish slavery all over again. I get angry with the world and feel frustrated that I can do precious little. Yes, it does affect my mood so I limit it as much as I can. Today can only be lived once.

6. Too much/little sunlight could be bad for you

Normally we associate the lack of sunlight with depression and insomnia. This is the one that we call winter SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which apparently affects 5 percent of the population. But did you know that too much sunlight can affect a small number of people (about 1.5 million Americans) which is the summer version of SAD?  Staying cool or in ideal temperatures is the best solution, if you are affected by the summer version. If you feel down in winter, light therapy sometimes can help.

7. Is your diet right?

Your diet could be affecting your mood. Look at the following ways you can set things right. If you are following the perfect diet and are always in a good mood, you can skip this bit.

Keri Grans, author of The Small Change Diet offers some great advice:-

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  • Make sure that you do not get hungry by not eating for long periods. This causes a drop in blood sugar and you get grumpy and feel lethargic
  • If you stock up on lots of sugary carbs at breakfast, a sugar crash is on the cards. Then you really get cranky!
  • Make sure that you are getting enough Omega3s by eating lots of fish, avocado and nuts. Studies show that low intake of these fatty acids is connected with depression.
  • Ensure that you have enough iron-rich foods so that you do not get burn-out which could lead to fatigue and irritability. Eggs, beans, artichokes and red meat can help to redress the balance.

 8. Happiness at work

There is a definite correlation, it seems, between happiness and productivity. Employers should read the study done at the University of Warwick which shows that there is a definite connection between happiness and better work all round. Happier employees were more efficient and stayed longer with the company than their unhappy colleagues. Providing ideal conditions with more flexibility would be a good place to start. That would put people in a better mood and increase profits!

9. Color Affects Your Mood

Pardon the pun, but this is a grey area! Lots of traditions, customs, rites , rituals and a few scientific studies are all attempting to illustrate how color affects our health and well being.  The most fascinating area is how color might affect your mood. The work by Richard Hammer of the University of Missouri School of Medicine is interesting and also practical. He uses calming colors on his screensaver while he changes this to another one full of reds, oranges and other stimulating colors when he has to meet a deadline or get something done!  Choose two of your favorite paintings which will have blues for easing tension while the other one will be full of bright colors. When you are in need of a change of mood, choose the one which best fits your immediate needs and stare at it for a few minutes.

10. Sweet dreams

Making sense of dreams is a rather hazardous business. But there is no doubt at all that waking up after a nightmare may leave us traumatized and nervous. A bad beginning to the day and our mood is likely to reflect that. After a sweet, ridiculous and funny dream, we are usually in a good mood and marvel at the complexity and lack of logic of the human brain.  A friend of mine is a psychotherapist (Jungian school) and he uses dreams as a basis for all his work. An essential tool is that all patients have to make notes of their dreams, once they wake up. If you are into dreams, you might like to keep a dream diary.

As we have seen, there are lots of weird and wonderful things which can affect your mood. Would you like to tell us about them?

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Featured photo credit: Macolin sur Bienne/ Jean-Daniel Echenard via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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