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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

10 Ways to Improve Your Mood When You Are Feeling Down

10 Ways to Improve Your Mood When You Are Feeling Down
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Any time you’re feeling down, you have two options. You can keep doing what you’re doing, which means continuing to feel less than ideal. Or, you can make a change and try to pick yourself back up.

The latter isn’t always easy. If you’re feeling down, you’re likely suffering from a lack of motivation, sadness, or stress, which can all cause you to want to stay exactly where you are. Because it can be difficult to know what to do when you’re down, we came up with 10 things to try to get that smile back on your face.

1. Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. While it’s beneficial to aspire to greatness, sometimes you need to sit back, reflect, and recognize all the good things you have going on right now.

When you’re feeling down, try this: think about the things in life you’re grateful for. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to constantly achieve, and be content with who you are right now at this moment. And remember, happiness is a choice.

2. Get up and Move

One of the best ways to pick yourself up when you’re having a tough day is to get up and do some exercise.

One study found that “exercise, whether performed at a low (yoga or similar), moderate or vigorous intensity (aerobic training) is effective in treating mild to moderate depression and is at least as effective as treatment as usual by a physician”[1]

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Therefore, even if you don’t enjoy Zumba or Pilates classes, taking a walk around the block can be just as effective in lifting your spirits. Whatever you do, get up, get moving, and get over it.

3. Surround Yourself With People You Love

Family members and friends can be the best medicine when you are feeling depressed or stressed from time to time. Even if you can’t see them in person, pick up the phone and call someone you love. Sometimes all you need is a friend to listen to you and offer some positive thoughts.

Many studies have pointed out the importance of social support on overall well-being[2]. Tough days are inevitable, but having people to go to at those times makes a world of difference and can help you turn things around. If you’ve been suffering from depression or excessive stress for a long time, support groups can also be a great way to find connection.

4. Find a Way to Laugh

We take life a little too seriously sometimes, so let’s put this in perspective: how you’re feeling right now is one tiny moment out of the thousands you will experience in your lifetime.

Know that sadness is temporary, and pick yourself up by watching your favorite funny show, movie, or video online.

One study has pointed out that “laughter decreases serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone, and 3,4-dihydrophenylacetic acid (a major dopamine catabolite), indicating a reversal of the stress response”[3]. Therefore, laughter can be especially effective if you’re had a stressful day at work or are feeling frustrated with life.

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5. Eat Something Healthy

When people are feeling down, most turn to junk food. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health.

Recent studies have pointed to a link between food and mood. Some suggest that Vitamin D can help lower rates of depression, while another found “an association between depression and a diet rich in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, and red meat”[4].

Feeling Down? 10 Foods to Eat to Fight Depression

    While a general consensus on diet and mood has not yet been reached, it’s safe to say that eating healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds can help you feel better and fill your body with proper nutrients[5]. That’s a win-win.

    6. Take Deep Breaths

    Focusing on your breathing may not sound like much, but it can make a world of difference if you’re feeling down. When you breathe deeply, your brain sends a message to your body to calm down, which decreases your body’s overall stress response[6].

    Spend a few minutes focusing on nothing except your breath. Take long, slow breaths, and get rid of all negative thoughts on each exhale. Try these 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly).

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    7. Spend Time With Animals

    Pets are therapeutic, and they’re smart; they can sense when you’re sad. Dogs are especially good for when you’re feeling down as they can motivate you to get out and walk. However, simply stroking a dog or cat can provide relief from stress and frustration[7].

    Even if you don’t have a pet, you likely have a friend who does. Try spending some time around animals, and watch your stress melt away.

    8. Do Something Spontaneous

    You may not feel like doing much when you’re feeling down, but one of the best ways to free your mind of those pesky negative thoughts is to go out and do something totally spontaneous.

    Take an impromptu road trip to go visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Visit your favorite store and treat yourself to a new outfit. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

    By stepping outside of your comfort zone, even for only a few minutes, you will inject some motivation and positivity into your day.

    9. Read Something Inspirational

    Words have the power to heal and pick you back up when you’re down. Go online and search for inspirational quotes. Watch a speech from a famous and inspiring leader you admire, or read a thoughtful or inspiring book.

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    This is great for a rainy day when you’re stuck inside, or when you’re trying to build up the motivation to do something more active.

    10. Get Some Work Done

    Here’s an easy way to take your mind off negative thoughts when you’re having a bad day: do some work.

    Whether it’s your job, doing chores, or working on a project you’re passionate about, getting work done will help you feel productive and free up your mind. Working around the house can also be a good way to get into a state of flow, which will occupy your mind and get you away from negative ruminations.

    More for When You’re Feeling Down

    Featured photo credit: Cameron Stow via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Preventative Medicine: Training fast or slow? Exercise for depression: A randomized controlled trial
    [2] ResearchGate: Close Relationships and Happiness
    [3] The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine: Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review
    [4] Harvard Health Publishing: Food and mood: Is there a connection?
    [5] Top 10 Home Remedies: 10 Foods to Eat to Fight Depression
    [6] University of Michigan: Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
    [7] Mental Health Foundation: Pets and mental health

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    Scott Christ

    Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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    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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