In two hours, I'm going to be interviewed on television. Years ago, my mind would have taken me into weeks of obsessive preparation, also accompanied by stress and anxiety. I would have wished for a glass (or two) of wine to calm my nerves before going on air. My heart would pound, and my mouth would seem filled with jumbo-sized cotton balls. Yet,it seemed like too much work decrease the stress I felt.
And then, when the moment would come for my interview to begin, I would sit down opposite the host and my upbeat, passionate personality would switch on like a lightbulb. I would speak confidently, powerfully, and authentically.
“So why, Marla,” I one day asked myself, “Why do you put yourself through weeks of misery to do something that is so natural for you?” And then, “How can I possibly shorten or eliminate this cycle of stress and anxiety before a speaking engagement?”
Today, as I await airtime, I'm excited and eager to have a platform where I can tell my story and perhaps help a few people move closer to their dreams. I did some preparation, of course, but it was fast and easy. I've had no stress, no anxiety, no cottonmouth.
What do you get anxious about doing? Public speaking, pitching your products or services? Attending meetings and networking engagements? Do you pour hours, days, or weeks of stress into projects that usually turn out just fine, despite your fears? You're not alone.
Tips to eliminate or decrease stress.
How can you calm your anxious fears? Begin with a review of the facts. For my speaking anxiety, I examined some of my past engagements and listed their positive aspects. Things like audience response (always good), how I felt on stage (alive and passionate), the event coordinator's reaction (very complimentary), the number of people who waited to speak to me after the event (often, a line formed). Once armed with my reality list (versus the B.S. I made up in my fear-brain), I began the process of managing my pre-stage stress cycle.
Keep track of your stress relief progress.
When you challenge yourself to shorten or eliminate your stress cycle, you must know if you're succeeding. Create a visual way to log your progression, like a spreadsheet or journal.
- How long do you dwell, worry, and procrastinate about your upcoming event?
- How stressful is this for you?
- In what ways does stress impact your life?
- Does it create tension in your body and make you constantly anxious?
- Does it show up in your mood and the way you treat yourself and others?
- Does it preoccupy you to the point that other things get put on hold?
Replace your made-up stories (B.S. thinking) with facts.
I call this process Bullshift™. You see, our minds love a good story. As we dwell on the scary parts of an important step, like a presentation, phone call, or meeting, our brains entertain us with false tales of looming failure. A written list of supportive facts can sweep in like a knight in shining armor. When you imagine yourself freezing like a deer in headlights, ask yourself if that's ever happened to you (probably not). Then look at your list to read about a time you aced a presentation. That's the story to focus upon. For every negative thought, train yourself to think about something from your list. Take the B.S. stories in your head and Bullshift™ them to empowering thoughts and facts. This process actually rewires your brain!
Learn more about my Bullshift™ Group Coaching Program
Beat procrastination caused by your stress.
Let's say you have a presentation coming up in 2 weeks. You've already spent a week freaking out about it or shoving it down into your procrastination space. Go for a fast walk or another activity to get your physical energy moving. Physical activity creates a positive shift in your body, which also adjusts your mood. Now, sit down to complete one step on your presentation. Odds are, once you get moving, you will do more.
Talk to your business coach or someone else who will support you.
Talking about your fears is beneficial in many ways. For starters, it helps you to hear the B.S. that your brain is making up and gives you the opportunity to Bullshift™ it. If you speak with someone who knows you well (your business coach, mentor, a good friend), they will remind you of your truth. Immediately after your conversation, get to work. Don't give your brain the time to shift gears back to the negative.
Notice what mindset strategies work best for you.
Keep track of how you feel and what you achieve after doing each of these steps. Does talking to someone help immensely, or did it feel as though it increased your stress? Did you ask the right person to be your sounding board? How did you feel after exercising? Did it clear your mind? Find the actions that work best and keep doing them.
Repeat these mindset exercises often and continue to keep track of your success.
I performed this process through about 4-5 stressful experiences, spanning nearly six months. But I kept track and watched my stress cycle decrease in time and intensity. Remain focused and committed. Add other activities that help lower your stress and increase your productivity.
Acquire new tools, like EFT Tapping.
My television appearance was a local engagement. If I were on a national morning show, my stress level would have been much higher, naturally! However, these tools, along with my Secret Weapon, decrease that stress to a manageable level. Learn more about my Secret Weapon, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (a.k.a., EFT or Tapping) here.
Keep working on reducing your cycle of stress and celebrate even the smallest win.