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Ways to Give to Charity Without Breaking the Bank

Ways to Give to Charity Without Breaking the Bank
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With today’s economy as hideous as it is, a lot of people balk at the idea of giving to charity: many of us live very frugally out of necessity, and we don’t necessarily have a load of extra cash to pour towards charitable or non-profit organizations. That said, Mother Theresa was right on point when she said: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” It doesn’t take much effort to make a dramatic difference in another’s life, so if any of these low-cost charitable actions appeal to you, consider taking part in a couple of them.

Virtual Donations

Help doesn’t have to happen face-to-face: if you’re housebound (or shy), you can help out from the comfort of your own home.

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  • Click to help others. The Greater Good web hub allows you to donate items to the needy with a simple click of your mouse. You can choose to support breast cancer research, anti-hunger campaigns, organizations that work towards eliminating cruelty to animals, and many others.
  • Play a Game. For every answer you get right in their numerous online games, Free Rice will donate rice to the World Food Programme to end hunger.
  • Sign Petitions. There are countless issues around the world that are in need of addressing, and chances are you’ll find an online petition for any cause that you feel strongly about. Signing a petition doesn’t take long, and can result in some amazing, positive change. Every signature is a voice, and sometimes those who cannot speak for themselves need us to stand up and speak out on their behalf.

The Gift of Time

If you don’t have much extra change lying around, chances are you may have a bit of time to spare. Instead of spending an hour looking at cat videos on YouTube or liking various people’s Facebook posts, you could fill those 60 minutes by doing something that could benefit other people. Websites such as Idealist and Charity Village post all manner of volunteer opportunities, so you can donate your time in a way that suits you best.

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If you’re a fairly social person and like the idea of hands-on charitable support where you can interact with the public, consider helping out in one of the following ways:

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  • Volunteering at an animal shelter. The furred and feathered friends waiting for adoption at shelters need a lot of love and attention; generally more than the staff members can allot to each one. If you’re an animal lover, consider volunteering to walk dogs, brush cats, or just spend time interacting with the birds and little furry creatures. They’re likely scared and confused, and being gentle and attentive can lift their spirits and give them  better chances of being re-homed.
  • Spending time with elderly residents in retirement homes. Many elderly people who live in care facilities are really quite lonely: those who don’t have family members living nearby may not ever receive visitors, and those who may be confined to bed or wheelchairs can’t really take part in facility events. Some may enjoy being read to, others might like to chat about the past over a cup of tea, and some may feel immensely useful if they can help you learn to knit, or learn a new language.
  • Helping out at a soup kitchen or food bank. Despite what you may have been led to believe, not all of the clients at soup kitchens are violent, schizophrenic homeless people who’ll attack you with broken umbrellas if you don’t greet their imaginary friends. Sadly, many who visit soup kitchens and food banks are poverty-stricken families with young children, students who have to choose between tuition and meals, and highly educated people who’ve found themselves unemployed thanks to the recession. You can help to nourish people’s spirits by letting them know that they’re worthy of kindness and respect, while you’re ensuring that they enjoy a warm meal.
  • Offering companionship at a hospice. This one might be difficult for people who are emotionally sensitive, as hospices are care facilities for the dying. Many people find it difficult to face mortality, and spending time with those whose lives are ending isn’t easy. That said, if you feel that you’re in a position to be able to offer your assistance to these patients, be it by reading to them, helping them with paperwork, or just holding their hand and listening to them, the experience can be incredibly rewarding for all involved.

Put Your Skills to Work

If you have some great skills and would like to use them for the benefit of others, there are many ways in which you can help out:

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  • Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Are you handy with a hammer? Habitat for Humanity is always on the lookout for people who have carpentry and building skills.
  • Make warm clothes for newborns and orphans. There are many organizations worldwide that accept handmade or knitted accessories and clothes for premature newborns and orphaned children.
  • Knit or crochet for those in need. If you’re an avid knitter or crocheter, consider using scrap yarn to make blankets and warm clothing for homeless outreach programs, animal shelters and rehabilitation centers, elderly folks living in poverty, or those living in refugee camps. 

Other Donations

Should you still wish to give to charity but don’t have time or money to give, then consider cleaning out your closets and cupboards for items to donate. Food banks are always in need of canned goods and other non-perishable items, and gently used clothes, blankets, and toys can be put to great use in women’s shelters and homeless outreach programs.

There’s always some way in which we can help others, and if we are able to do so, we probably should.

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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)

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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