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10 Things to Tell Yourself If You Will Spend Christmas Alone

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10 Things to Tell Yourself If You Will Spend Christmas Alone

Oh man, the holiday season is upon us and so is yet another month filled with the constant reminder of who you do and do not have in your life at the moment. Something about this season makes people go nutty over the idea of being with others. It’s this obsession that drives many a single person into a state of sheer loneliness at least once or twice a day. But what if we changed all that? What if you could break the lonely trend and actually be happy to spend some one-on-one time with yourself this year? Let’s add to this the fact that you’ll come out a stronger person because of it. Sounds pretty fabulous, right?

Let’s start the process to being an amazing, fearless, single individual by taking care of that loneliness – one positive affirmation at a time. Check out the following list of the 10 best things you can tell yourself when you get lonely this Christmas:

1. Your Cat Loves You

This may seem like an attack on my fellow cat connoisseurs. Trust me, it’s not. In fact, this point extends even to those who choose the “alternative lifestyle” of living with a dog. Your pet legitimately loves you and wants your attention! Don’t have one? Now’s the time to get one. There’s nothing more soothing than snuggling up with your furry friend when times get tough. They love you, give them some love back. Next thing you know, you’re not so lonely anymore.

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2. Groceries are Cheaper for One

Sometimes, roommates make a pact to “split the cost of groceries” or “leave each other’s food alone”. I think we all know what really happens. You end up footing the bill for their gluttony. Here is where the beauty of living alone comes into play. Your food is actually yours. No more fighting over the last yogurt…the yogurt that you bought, by the way. You’re welcome, self.

3. Your PTO is Yours This Year

Ugh… It’s your day off and this person in your life insists that you parade around from house to house, meeting different relatives and family friends whom you’ve been so fortunately selected to impress. No thanks! This year, your paid time off is all yours. No awkward moments in attempting to dodge angst-filled glares from preteen cousins. Better yet, no fending off the marriage question everyone is asking at this, the tender age of 35. Nope, you can do anything you want with your time off. How about a trip to Vegas? Bocca? Hawaii? Doesn’t matter! You don’t have to answer to anyone this year. Congrats!

4. Romance Makes You Nauseous

Something about the holiday season makes everyone get all touchy feely. The last thing you need is your significant other of two weeks suggestively directing you toward the Zales window. Those cold, creepy, horse-drawn carriages? Nope. A burnt tongue from hot cocoa and blisters from that mediocre ice rink visit? Not this year! All that sappy, sap, sappiness can be left to those who don’t have a date with Mad Men and a few glasses of vino.

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5. Opting for a Night in with Netflix is Trendy These Days

Speaking of Mad Men, let’s give a big thank you to Netflix! Any show you want to watch, season after season, is right there when you need it. The best part? It’s actually cool to make your dates with Netflix now! Once you’ve completed the entire series, you can choose to move onto the next show, or go out on the town for some real-person interaction. It really doesn’t matter. The great thing here is that you aren’t forced either way…sensing a theme here, eh?

6. Christmas Cheer is an Option, Not a Requirement

Christmas is awesome. There’s no denying that. The only not-so-awesome thing about it is when others try to convince you that it’s necessary to constantly listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, engage in Christmas activities, basically fake a festive spirit for the sake of “the best Christmas ever”. Sure, you’ll have your moments of pure Christmas bliss, but they’ll be on your watch, allowing you to actually enjoy the spirit of the season – not fake your way through it.

7. Yours is the Only Awkward Christmas Party

Possibly one of the best things about being “lonely” this holiday season is not having to head out to a bunch of awkward holiday Christmas parties throughout the month of September. You may have a few of your own, but you’ll more than likely know the people there, and better yet, you choose whether or not you go. Even if your loneliness is caused by living far from loved ones, you’ll enjoy having a good excuse not to play carpool with your siblings and partake in family cooking events. Much easier to keep up that daily routine you’re adjusting to with fewer obligations.

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8. There’s no Heat to be Caught

When that festive smile turns to a blank face after three hours of holiday festivities, you’re bound to catch some heat from your date. Even worse, if you provide an unfavorable answer to questions asked by friends and family regarding your thoughts on marriage, politics, etc. You’re skipping the nagging in favor of a good time at holiday parties this year. That sounds like a smart idea, if you ask me.

9. That One Starbucks Always Appreciates Your Business

Some Starbucks locations are friendlier than others. Chances are, you’ve identified the one with the nicest baristas (I sure have!). Go there. Something about their “Have a great day!” seems so much more believable than when your grocery store clerk says it. You might even be a regular. This is awesome. Not only do the baristas know your order, but you can catch a quick convo before returning to your Netflix-athon. #winning.

10. Life is What you Make it

Alright, time to get a little serious. Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be. If you constantly dwell on your single status, your life will become centered around finding “the one” and being miserable until that happens. Forget about that quest and take time to enjoy your single self. Life should be about you and the amazing impact you can make during your time on this planet, not your ability to settle into a relationship with someone you’re not absolutely head over heels for..

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Featured photo credit: Cute young woman playing with snow in fur coat outdoors via shutterstock.com

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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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