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15 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying

15 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying
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So, you just found out some rather devastating news. You’re not sure how to handle it, and you can’t seem to stop worrying. Maybe it isn’t actually one thing in particular; you’re just always on edge about something, and you want to stop. It’s okay. Your life is more in control than you think, and these steps can help you feel more like it.

1. Get busy.

There may not be much you can do about the impending situation, so it’s good to get busy with things that you can affect. There’s no time to shut down now. You can solve other problems even if you can’t solve this one. Being productive in general can also help inspire you to tackle that original problem.

2. (Prepare for the worst, but) hope for the best.

You’re not going to go into the future unprepared for possible negativity. You’re just hoping it works out better than expected. This means taking the steps to guard against future problems, but accepting that not all of them will come up. Things could easily take a turn for the better, and you’re open to that.

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3. Distract yourself with something good and inspiring.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the problem. This means to give yourself a break and go do something positive for yourself. Read something motivational. Go for a brisk walk by the lake. Log another half hour at the gym. Whatever it is, make sure you’re doing it for you.

4. Get support.

Chances are you aren’t in this alone. Call your friends and family, or better yet, meet up with them for a relaxing dinner. When the time is right, confide in them what you are going through, and see if they might be able to help you get through it. If nothing else, they will be able to offer you emotional support. If worrying becomes a bigger issue than your typical confidants can handle, you might need to consider speaking with someone who deals with this as a profession. There are many therapists who specialize in this, and they may be able to help you.

5. Practice relaxing.

This may seem counterintuitive after step number one, but it’s also true. You need to have a good balance of productivity and leisure. Life will be there when you’re done relaxing, so for now, you’re just going to take it easy for a bit. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, it may be time to practice. Search for some local recreational events in your area, or browse the channels on television for some stress-free programming. The activity itself doesn’t matter. It may not even need to be an activity; you can just sit down and meditate for a bit, and it will help you relax.

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6. Count your blessings.

Sometimes worrying is actually a perspective issue. Take some time to count your blessings. Perhaps put a pen and paper in front of you, and list off everything in your life for which you are thankful. Consider the privileges and advantages that come simply with being you. Better yet, express your appreciation for those blessings by communicating with others. Whatever you do, remember that you have a lot going for you.

7. Monitor your thoughts.

Worrying can be due to intrusive and disruptive thought patterns. You are what you think. It can be difficult to change those patterns, but it’s worth attempting. Focus more on the positive aspects of your life. Take pride in your accomplishments, and spend a little extra time feeling good about yourself for them. Look for the silver lining in everything, because it’s often there.

8. Identify your worries.

This may be uncomfortable for some, but for others, it’s a good way to deal with stress. Grab that pen and paper again; this time you’re going to write down, in as much detail as possible, exactly what you are worried about and why. You are almost guaranteed to get some insight by doing this. Your problems might just be smaller than you thought they were. If nothing else, you know specifically what you’re dealing with, and can start to figure out how to overcome those issues.

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9. Differentiate between productive and unproductive worries.

Take the list you made in step eight, and consider crossing off the ones over which you have no control. If you can’t alter the outcome of those situations, why bother worrying about them? There is no solution for them, and in all likelihood, those worries are probably rather vague. Forget about them. On the other hand, realize that some worries are productive, because you can do something to overcome them.

10. Accept your own limitations.

We are all good at some things and bad at others. Those specific things are different for every person. If your worry is related to something you aren’t particularly good at, then that’s okay. You live in a society with plenty of other people who happen to be good at it! You may not be a great mechanic, but even if your car breaks down, you can always take it in to the shop.

11. Get out of your comfort zone.

Many people stay here because they worry about what will happen if they do something uncomfortable. You’d be surprised how much less stressful your life might be if you got out of your comfort zone once in a while. Once you accomplish some things you don’t want to do, you won’t have to worry about being able to handle them.

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12. Schedule your worrying.

It might sound a bit silly, but mentally allowing yourself a set time to worry can actually help you concentrate on other things throughout the day. Even better, try to redefine this scheduled time as a point in the day to evaluate your obligations and figure out how to tackle them. Focus on solutions to your problems, not the problems themselves.

13. Allow yourself to be imperfect.

This is important whether you tend to worry or not, but is especially important for those who worry about their own shortcomings. You are not a perfect person, and that’s completely okay. You may have had an extra brownie after dinner, or you may not have been able to pinch every penny, or maybe you just can’t quite get your hair to sit right. That’s alright. Everyone else has their own issues like this, so cut yourself some slack.

14. Be happy before you finish your to-do list.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: you’ll be able to breathe once you just finish everything. Try your best to avoid this pattern of thinking. Notice your productivity levels. You’re getting stuff done, and that’s reason enough to be happy. You’re doing work. You are having a successful day. The fact that it isn’t done yet means nothing.

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15. Realize that you are your own worst critic.

Stop worrying about what other people might think about you. Chances are, they don’t think anything. It’s nothing personal; it’s just a fact. People have their own problems and are much too preoccupied to care about whether you’re having a bad hair day, or if you’re using food stamps at the grocery store. It may seem a bit dark, but it’s actually quite liberating once you realize this. Only a certain handful of people truly have a meaningful opinion of you. The rest are just trying to live their own lives… and now you’re free to live yours.

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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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