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10 Valentine Ideas You May Not Have Thought of

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10 Valentine Ideas You May Not Have Thought of

Valentine’s Day is approaching once again, and people all over the world will be scrambling for gifts to give their special someone. Whether they’re gifts for spouses, lovers, friends, or family members, these gifts tend to run the usual gamut of plush toys, roses, and candy. Consider something a bit more unique this year—it’ll certainly liven things up, and will stand out in the recipient’s memory far more than that box of chocolate will.

valentine ideas

    Here are a few ideas that you can do to make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one:

    1. Put Together a “Date in a Box”

    date in a box

      No, it’s not suggested that you package up your partner, but rather that you create a gift box/basket full of all the things that would make a perfect date night; either for you and your date, or for a couple that you can give it to as a gift.
      For movie-lovers, the parcel could include a couple of DVDs and some popcorn with gourmet toppings to sprinkle over it. Wine aficionados could indulge in a bottle or two of their favourite wine, along with some cheeses, bread, olive oil, and candles. If the recipient’s ideal dates fall into the realm of fly-fishing tournaments or furry conventions, you’re on your own for ideas.

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      2. Sponsor an Animal

      Sponsor an Animal

        Love doesn’t just have to be expressed towards other humans—it can be directed towards caring for any species. If you love animals, consider making a donation to a charitable organization that helps to care for those in need.  You could choose to donate to a local pet shelter or wildlife rehab center, or any number of care facilities worldwide that offer medical care and sanctuary to animals like elephants, dolphins, sun bears, wolves, and countless other species.
        Donations are tax-deductible, and you’d be ensuring that an animal in need receives gentle care and compassion. You’ll often even receive pictures of the animal(s) you helped, and regular updates on their well-being.

        3. Make Chocolate “Sushi” Together

        ChocolateSuSh

          Don’t yarf: these faux sushi bites are absolutely not a mixture of fish and chocolate, so there’s no need to run screaming. Though it may sound bizarre to have dessert in the shape of maki rolls or nigiri, it’s actually a lot of fun, and will undoubtedly surprise the person you’re sharing it with.
          Making these is fairly time-consuming, so don’t leave your preparations to the last minute. The “rice” can be made a variety of different ways, but the most common ones seem to be either grated white chocolate, shredded coconut, or crispy rice and marshmallow mixture—the kind that’s used for squares. The “nori” is made of strips of dark chocolate, and you can use a variety of fillings and toppings to emulate anything you like. Try pieces of mango or pineapple, and use crushed raspberries in lieu of tobiko.

          4. Name a Star After Your Sweetheart

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          name a star

            This one might not be completely legit, in so far as you can’t really prove that the star you’ve named hasn’t been named for ten thousand other people and you’ve just been billed for it, but it’s a cute gesture. You can expand on this idea by getting the star’s coordinates etched into matching jewellery that only you two share.

            5. Have a Midnight Picnic

            125035__walk_l

              This is a really cute, low-key thing that you and your beloved can do together that’s low-cost, silly, fun, and can be put together from stuff you have at home. You can either wake them in the middle of the night to surprise them with a picnic spread in the middle of the living room, or you can tell them ahead of time so you two can plan together and nap as needed so you don’t fall asleep onto your sandwich in the middle of the night.
              This is also fun to do with your kids, if they’re old enough to appreciate it and won’t end up howling and miserable the next day.

              6. Make some Hair Jewellery

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              hair jewelery

                Okay, this one’s a bit weird and might appeal most to the goths out there, but hair jewellery was really popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and can be quite beautiful. Though it was mostly worn in remembrance—crafted as it was from the hair of dead loved ones—these brooches and rings can also be created while your sweetheart it still among the living.

                7. Take a Dance Class Together

                dance class

                  Nothing says “I love to be close to you” than forced, awkward togetherness in front of strangers. There’s such a wide range of dance classes to choose from that you two can be flouncing around the dance floor together in no time. Salsa, tango, swing, or ballroom: whatever would encourage you and your partner to have a ridiculous amount of fun together would definitely be a way to celebrate in style.

                  8. Grow a Tree to Plant in the Spring

                  grow a tree

                    Winter really isn’t the time to go planting things in your yard, but you can get seeds and nuts started indoors in a little pot of soil. Consider getting yourself a tree-growing kit (or just be experimental with a nut or pit of your choice) and see if you can coax a tree into growing for you. Once the weather has warmed up and your tree is sturdy enough to move outdoors, transplant it into the ground where you can watch it grow for years to come.

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                    9. Have a Marathon of the Worst “Romantic” Films Ever

                    worst movie ever

                      There are some spectacularly bad romantic comedies out there, and few things can make a couple appreciate how good they have it as watching some of the cheesiest, heart-stopping dreck that the film industry has put out. Make a big bucket of popcorn, pour some drinks (you’ll need them), log into Netflix, and enjoy. The groaning and wincing will bring you closer together.

                      10. Do Absolutely Nothing.

                      sit and do nothing

                        You could always choose to go against the grain of forced, expected displays of affection on this day: take a cue from the “Un-Birthday” party from Alice in Wonderland, and make this an “Un-Valentine’s Day”. Don’t do anything special, don’t make any big fuss… and instead, do something sweet and adorable on each of the remaining 364 days ’til the next time V-Day rolls around.

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                        More by this author

                        Catherine Winter

                        Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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