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16 Ways To Grow Mentally And Physically

16 Ways To Grow Mentally And Physically

Think about it: have you been truly improving yourself?

Life can get so busy and hectic that we just let the days fly by. We forget to always grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In simple terms, we forget to always make ourselves better.

That’s not to say that you aren’t amazing just the way you are, but personal development and growth are both crucial if you want to maintain happiness, motivation, and peace of mind.

These 16 easy habits can help you cover all the self-improvement bases, so that you can make each and every day a stepping stone to the “you” you’ve always imagined!

Enrich Your Mind

1. “Eat the frog”

No, not literally. Please don’t do that.

The phrase “eat the frog” means to get the hardest task on your to-do list done and over with, ASAP. Solve a challenging problem early in the day, so it’s not weighing you down the whole day. Whether it’s getting a big work project done or calling your scary mother-in-law, just grit your teeth and get it done early. You’ll thank yourself later!

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2. Start developing that skill you’ve always wanted

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Get moving on it! There’s no better time than now, especially if it’s a new skill that you’ve always fancied.

Want to learn a new language? Buy a language program or hire a tutor. Want to be a proficient flutist? Buy that flute and take that class already. It’s worth it if it’s something that will improve your mind in a way you’ve always dreamed of.

3. Make a deal with your friends

Money too tight to buy that expensive flute or take a class? Talk to your friends. Your friends have all sorts of talents and knowledge that you may not possess – and you have talents of your own. Make a deal with a friend to teach each other your respective talents. It’s the most cost-efficient—and perhaps most entertaining—way to enrich your mind.

4. Read, read, read!

Ask all of my friends what my biggest obsession is, and they’ll likely say books. And they’d be right. My room is full-to-bursting with stacks of books. Why, you may ask? Oh, let me enlighten you. (Prepare for some serious gushing here.)

Even if they’re pure fiction, books can teach you so much. They open up your mind to different possibilities, different situations you may never experience, and different ways of thinking.

Not sure where to start? Use Goodreads, which can give you customized recommendations based on your interests. To purchase books cheaply (I’m talking two or three bucks here, with no shipping fees for those in the United States), use Thriftbooks.com.

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Nourish Your Body

1. Do a little resistance exercise

No, this doesn’t mean resisting exercise. Resistance exercise is essentially anything that causes your muscles to contract against external forces, like weights, bands, or your own body weight. Instead of beelining for the elliptical or the treadmill at the gym, try incorporating some weight training or body weight exercises. (Squats are a great place to start!)

2. Replace unhealthy foods with your favorite fruits and veggies

This may seem lecture-y, but that doesn’t make it any less truthful: that bag of Doritos is doing your body absolutely no good. Think of it this way: the food you eat is either healing or harming your body. Eat your favorite fruits and veggies on the regular, and you’ll most certainly be more on the healing end.

3. Take a class

Sometimes, being in a class with an instructor and other like-minded people does wonders for your motivation. Get a friend to join you in a class so you don’t feel tempted to skip, and try taking a spin class, or maybe a Zumba class, if you love to dance.

4. Hydrate!

It can be difficult to remember to drink enough water, especially when the option of soda or juice is present. However, it’s incredibly important to keep yourself hydrated. Carry around a water bottle with you and fill it on the regular. You’ll notice improvements in your skin, energy levels, and overall physique.

Cultivate True Happiness

1. Encourage others

It feels good to make someone happy, especially if it’s someone you care about. Plus, happiness is contagious.

Express your appreciation to those around you. Let someone know that they’re doing a good job, and you’ll both feel a lovely mood boost.

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2. Smile

No, seriously. Smiling has numerous health benefits, and it can release endorphins, which can make you happier. Even if you force a smile for a period of time, you’ll start to feel it. Next time negative feelings are trying to take control of you, just combat them with a smile.

3. Or better yet, laugh

You know how great it feels after a good belly laugh? That’s because of those lovely endorphins I just mentioned. Make it your goal to have a good laugh at least once every day, even if you do that by watching your favorite stand-up or forcing a laugh.

4. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good

Start to notice how you feel after interacting with the people you’re close to. Do you have any friends who drain you? Who are constantly negative? Or even worse—who subtly try to tear you down and sabotage your efforts?

You can’t feel truly happy if you surround yourself with negative people. Try to spend your time with people who encourage you and inspire you. You deserve that.

Grow Spiritually

1. Set goals for yourself

And I don’t mean big career goals (although those are good, too). Start your day by thinking about one good thing you can do for the day, whether it’s something that will make you happier or make someone else happier. Set goals for your spiritual growth.

2. Practice gratitude every day

There will always be things in life that we want, but don’t have. It’s important to focus on your life goals, but there’s no point in sulking. Remember: there is always someone who is happier with less than what you have.

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By practicing gratitude, you are focusing on the things you do have, which will help you value your life and your choices. At the end your day, write down one thing you were thankful for that happened that day. Focus on the positives, and you’ll grow spiritually.

3. Give yoga a try

I love yoga. I am terrible at it right now, because I’m still a beginner, but I absolutely love it. It’s not only good for you, but it helps you truly clear your mind and become aware of your body. Even the most simple and straightforward poses have this effect.

Start your day with yoga, and you will absolutely not regret it.

4. Keep it all in perspective

Life has its nuisances, its issues, and its sorrows that can feel all-encompassing and overwhelming at the time. It can be difficult to look past these things and see the big picture, but remind yourself that these problems will not matter to you in a year, let alone at the end of your life.

You only have one life. Make it count.

Featured photo credit: mynameisrebecca via flickr.com

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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)

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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