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12 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying So Much

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12 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying So Much

Have you ever lost sleep to worrying, dreaming up a series of scenarios for what could do wrong? Don’t worry – you’re not morbid or a pessimist. Anxiety is a natural evolutionary response to a perceived threat, and worrying is your way of taking control over an otherwise uncertain situation. Worrying is a form of planning for the worst, and preparing accordingly.

In that sense, worrying can be productive. It’s a self-soothing mechanism when you are scared, sad, or angry about events beyond your immediate control. However, anxiety is also linked to depression and a host of physical symptoms, including insomnia, digestive disorders, and headaches.

Worrying is an illusory form of control. If anxiety is negatively impacting your life, it’s time to consider how you can stop worrying so much and get back to living boldly.

1. Set Aside Time to Worry

Carve out 15 minutes a day to worry, and only worry. When time’s up, you’re done. If worries start creeping into your day at other times, tell yourself you can think about it during your ‘Worry Time.’  Soon you’ll realize how much time is wasted by worrying, especially when you are worrying about the same things over and over again.

2. Prepare for the Worst

Worrying is a form of preparing yourself to face challenging situations. So go ahead, think of the worst case scenario and how you might respond. For example, let’s say you are losing sleep over a big presentation coming up at work. What’s the worst case scenario? You could completely bomb, forgetting your notes and having trouble getting the projector to work. People might laugh.

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In most cases, you can survive the worst case scenario. So don’t worry too much about it.

3. Hope for the Best

On the flip side, worry can be combatted against with an optimistic outlook. So if that same upcoming work presentation is causing you anxiety, it can be equally helpful to consider all the potential wonderful outcomes: your boss notices what an asset you are to the company, you increase credibility with your colleagues, and you might even discover a talent for public speaking.

4. Be Proactive

You can sit around agonizing over how to handle a certain situation or project, but the best way to alleviate worry is to tackle the issue head on. Remember, worrying is a form of planning, but it’s a waste of time if you don’t follow up with specific actions.

In other words, in order to stop worrying about how to do something, you need to get busy doing it.

5. Distract Yourself

When you are hyper-focused on worrying about one thing, it takes over your life. This kind of tunnel vision causes you to lose perspective. A college student might be tormented over a single paper, forgetting it’s ONE assignment for ONE class for ONE semester. So, yes, this might be a crucially important paper – perhaps the paper that will be the difference between passing or failing a class – but in no way is it the Single Most Important Event of this person’s life.

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Get out of your own head by distracting yourself with other activities you enjoy – working out, listening to music, going out for a nice meal, or meeting up with a friend.

6. Seek Support

Sometimes the quickest way to manage anxiety is to call on your support network. Find a family member, friend, or trusted colleague with whom you can openly discuss what you are worried about.

A good source of support is a person who does not minimize your concerns, big or small, offers advice when asked, and listens without judgment.

7. Support Others

A good way to stop worrying about your own problems is to help someone with theirs. Halt your internal dialogue about all of your worries by asking a friend, “How are you?” and really listening.

Consider volunteering your time with an animal rescue or homeless shelter, and shift your focus on helping other people contend with their personal struggles.

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8. Have a Conversation with a Professional

Relentless anxiety might be a sign of a medical condition, warranting a visit to the doctor or a licensed mental health professional. If anxiety is interfering with your quality of life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with approaching it the same as you would any illness and seeking medical help.

Alternatively, you can schedule an appointment with a trusted clergy member or similar spiritual authority if you are someone who derives strength from your faith.

9. Put It On Paper

In addition to setting aside time to worry, consider writing out your anxious thoughts in a journal. Sometimes seeing something on paper helps us better digest the information. Additionally, if you write down what you are worried about, over time you will likely notice a pattern in specific anxieties and your triggers.

By recording your worries, you will get bored of them, acknowledge the worst case scenario rarely (if ever) come to pass, and understand how to anticipate and cope with specific people or situations who cause you to worry in the fist place. 

10. Trade Anxiety For Appreciation

You know the saying, “Count your blessings”? Anxiety is related to fear, stress, anger, and a sense of desperation. Worrying about what you may or may not lose seems less productive when forcing yourself to remain cognizant of what you already have.

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So while you may not get that promotion you’ve been angling for, you might instead be grateful for secure employment with a paycheck that allows you to support yourself and your family.

11. Look for Role Models

It’s fine if you’re not a naturally anxiety-free person. History is full of plenty of distinguished persons who had to train themselves to stop worrying in order to accomplish great things. Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton, and Sigmund Freud are all said to have struggled with anxiety disorder.

Eleanor Roosevelt overcame debilitating shyness to become the First Lady of the United States and a world-famous humanitarian. She advised, “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”

12. Challenge Yourself

Ultimately, the best option might be exposure therapy; challenge yourself to face your fears, big and small, until you no longer worry about their potential impact on your life. If you’re afraid of flying, book a flight, or even consider taking a flying lesson. If you worry about giving presentations at work, join a public speaking group.

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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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