Long distance relationships are tough. There is no need to sugarcoat it. Being miles away from one another puts stress on the relationship because it requires an extraordinary amount of trust and dedication. It can be so frustrating to keep the connection you once had when the two of you were right beside each other. Fret not. There are lots of ways to keep the romance in long distance relationships.
How do I know this? I speak from personal experience.
It was not easy, but we made it work. We had already been dating for two plus years seeing each other every day. Then he got a big boy job and had to travel, living out of hotels for two brutal years. Our time being apart seemed like it would never end until one day we found out he received a permanent job assignment. We are still together, living under one roof six months later, so I would say we had success with the whole long distance thing.
One tricky thing was keeping the romance. You cannot look one another in the eye, much less give hugs, kisses or go on a romantic date. We had to get creative. Without romance, the relationship is basically only a friendship, which is not a bad thing, but many people crave something deeper. Here are some ways I found to have romance in long distance relationships.
1. Send good morning text messages.
It sounds sappy, but we almost always texted each other good morning and good night. It is good to let your partner know that you are thinking about them when you wake up and when you are going to sleep. If you are feeling super ambitious, ask a couple of thoughtful questions such as “How was your sleep?” or “What are you up to today?”
2. Plan date nights.
Sure, you cannot sit in the same room, but maybe you are able to watch the same television show at the same time. Some of the most fun memories of long distance dating was curling up on the couch with my phone beside me, texting my boyfriend comments on the show we were watching.
3. Send photo texts of your day.
In today’s world, it is easy to communicate all day if you wish. Try to remind your lover you are thinking about him or her by sending an occasional photo text of something you are doing. I am pretty big into food photography, so he would send me pictures of his meals if he had the opportunity to eat somewhere fancy. He even did a whole blog post for me about food he ate on the road. If that isn’t love, I’m not sure what is!
4. Pay attention on phone calls.
There is a tendency when you are dating long distance to want to spend as much time on the phone together as possible. Since there are many things to be done around the home, we might also be doing the laundry or dishes or glancing at the television. What is better: a short amount of quality time or a long period filled with distractions where neither party is paying attention to one another? Try just planting it on a chair and giving him/her your undivided attention. You would be surprised at the difference it makes!
5. Send a care package.
I think I only did this once since he was bouncing around to so many different hotels, but it was so fun! Keeping the secret and having him find it on his own to bring up to me later kept things exciting for a little bit. Plus it showed him I was thinking about him.
6. Surprise him/her with a visit.
This one you need to be careful of as you do not want to be an inconvenience. Hosting someone takes time and planning, so do give them a little warning.
7. Always have the next visit planned.
Along with occasional “surprise” visits, make sure you know when you will see one another next. It gives both of you something to look forward to and you can count down the days until you see your loved one next.
8. Make sure to laugh together.
Send him a joke. Send her a link filled with funny cat pictures. There is an emotional connection formed when we laugh together, so keep that connection alive.
9. Video chat with one another.
This was an activity that was either a lot of fun or quite frustrating. Neither of us had phones that would do video so we had to use Skype, which relied on possibly crappy internet service. We finally figured out that having Skype up on our laptops and chatting on the phone was the best solution. It really does help to see your partner face-to-face, so try finding a good video app you can both use.
10. Send an e-mail or snail mail love letter.
Texting is great, but you can only say so much. Phone conversation is lovely, but you might not be able to articulate what you are feeling on the spot. Take time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to express exactly what you love about one another.
11. Lastly, talk/text/e-mail romantically.
Hopefully you are attracted to one another, so do not forget to express that attraction no matter what the distance is between the two of you.
Romance is one of the hardest things to keep alive in a long distance relationship, but do not forget about it. Months could go by before seeing one another. Sometimes you can get so caught up in your own life that you forget about the other person. This is understandable at times, but review this list of ways to have romance in long distance relationships when you feel like you are losing touch with the romance. Long distance relationships can be a true pain, but there is also the phrase, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Remember that and push on!
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: