There are a lot of things that still scare me.
There are many things I have avoided because I didn’t want to look stupid in front of other people (and still do).
There are relationships I blocked, and experiences I denied because I didn’t want to look and feel like an awful, sweating, mumbling schmuck.
As I’ve taken on more regrets and learned more about how life works, I have accumulated a handful of tools, philosophies and methods that help me do my best.
They give me an edge that allows me to more calmly take on challenges I may have otherwise avoided.
I have incorporated most into my regular life as the norm, but many help reduce nerves and feeling better for one-off occasions too.
Maybe these don’t apply to you. Maybe your whole life will change, you won’t believe how you lived as you did before. Some may be obvious to you.
These have worked for me…
Reduce carbs and sugar
Ever notice when you’re at a cafe, and you see some folks eating sugary treats and cakes near you, within about fifteen minutes, they’re slumped motionless in front of their phones. They had their sugar spike, and now they’re zombies. Avoid the sugary stuff, and your energy will soar.
We can argue all day on the science of all this, but I’m here for results. I know that reducing bread of all kinds, grains, wheat and refined sugar always makes me feel better. I have more energy, less to zero brain fog, and anxiety is much less.
Take it easy on the dopamine
There are lots of sources of dopamine hits, especially strong ones like video games, smoking, porn, drugs, nightclubs, sugary food — even going to the cinema.
When your dopamine receptors get repeatedly used, this can start to wear them out. You become desensitised to normal everyday things, so that life seems flat and dull.
This high stimulus stuff leads to a crash, which can make you more nervous, jittery and distracted.
Give your body a break and stop stuffing in ANY food for a time.
Fast for a few hours or more, especially before that big thing you need to do. Again, my science is not strong on this — I am going by results and my own strain of pseudo-intellectualism.
But try holding off on eating for a while. Allow your body to literally eat and clean itself. You will feel sharper and lighter.
Please read up on this and ask an expert — we all have different needs. I am going by what has worked for me.
Avoid processed, sugary food, even caffeine, before fasts because you don’t want to ‘crash’ into a fast.
Pulling in large draws of oxygen into the lungs and belly brings oxygen to the blood and brain, calms you down, makes you more present, makes you think faster, and will make you feel better.
Break down stuck feelings
Sit in silence and get in touch with your feelings. Watch any negative emotions that come up and pay attention to them. Attention causes them to float away, and you will feel better, unstuck and energised.
You can repeat this exercise on many of the blocks that come up with around certain areas of your life by asking specific questions that bring these feelings up and working on melting away those sensations.
‘Loving myself’ affirmations
Repeatedly telling myself that ‘I love myself,’ puts me in a positive and loving frame of mind that is calming. You can do this during meditation or as you go about your day.
The more, the better. Usually, our mind is filled with worries and negative self-judgement. Retrain your brain to think lovingly of yourself, and you will notice the changes quickly.
Doing this over and over again starts to form new pathways in the brain, creating an improved self-image, and boosting my confidence.
Burn off that excess, nervous energy in the gym, on the bike machine or in the pool. Especially useful is exercise that involves plenty of sweating, and deep breathing.
The sweating releases toxins, adding to a greater sense of well-being.
Making your body stronger makes your mind stronger. This always makes me feel great and boosts my creativity, which is why I always go to the gym before sitting down to do my most productive work, or if I need to do something that would usually make me nervous, like doing a podcast interview.
Getting on top of errands and admin
Sometimes getting on top of those little things like emails you’ve neglected for a long time, or cleaning the house gives you the sense that you are in control of your life and you are capable.
Nap or rest
A quick nap or a lie down could help you feel refreshed and ready for an upcoming challenge. The critical thing here is not to allow yourself to feel guilty for resting (as long as it’s not excessive, partner!).
Rest is a necessity for continued mental aliveness, calm, physical regeneration and creativity.
Getting into your body doesn’t stop with meditation or exercise.
Shake out tension, try trauma-release exercises, dance and stretch. Go wild. If you have something scary coming up, kick, shout and dance for a while, and see how your state changes.
Remember that a lot of our mental states are defined by our physical states. So by getting into an active, playful frame, so will your mind.
Commit to honesty
Here’s where it gets more into philosophy and mindset.
One of the game-changers for me in terms of feeling more alive, and at ease, was, to be honest, and open in everything I did.
An honest approach means not hiding anything. A lot of our anxiety comes out of hiding things about ourselves through shame. That needs to change. Be willing to be open, and be courageous in telling the truth when the opportunity arises.
Obviously, don’t go out of your way to tell everyone that they’re fat or ugly, but be honest in your approach to life.
Be in alignment to your word. Forgive yourself and others. Do what you say you will do. Be honest about what you want with people. Have the courage to say no when something is not good for you.
Honesty springs directly from self-love. A lot of people are not honest because they don’t fully respect themselves. They have to hide parts of themselves. Those who love themselves, appreciate their flaws, and those of others around them, and their relaxed nature reflects this.
This approach has helped me feel more at ease in my own skin.
Turn your focus towards making others feel better
Most of us are preoccupied with what others think of us.
Here’s the deal: people will always judge, and they will always have their own opinions of everything and everyone. Mostly, people aren’t judging you nearly as much as you think, and who cares anyway?
It’s never about feeling pressured to change yourself. What you need to do if you’re self-conscious is turn your focus away from ‘what’s wrong with me?’ To: ‘How can I make others feel better?’
It’s all about changing where you put your focus, and this one will not only put you at ease, but it will bring you tremendous success in life.
Don’t take anything personally
Taking the words of others seriously is one more nail in your coffin. Don’t do it. Other people don’t know you. They have opinions, and nothing more.
Getting into this mindset, like the others, takes practice, but your life will change when you incorporate this one alone.
Not taking anything personally doesn’t only apply to the negative judgements of others — they apply equally to the positive validation others give you.
Praise and hate should be regarded the same. Don’t take them personally. Because when we base our well-being on the validation and kind words of others, we’re still at the mercy of other people, rather than leading our own lives.
Be gracious for praise, but don’t become drunk by it.
The naysayer or troll can only see themselves in their judgement of you.
What would you be like if you took absolutely nothing personally?
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