How to Stand up without Standing Out

You’ve decided to make a lifestyle change that will infuse movement into your everyday life, like standing more at work. You’ve learned that this small change can have a big impact on your health. You’re excited to start, but something is holding you back. It’s not a lack of motivation or commitment or knowledge. It’s the look you imagine your coworkers giving you when you stand up at a meeting or at your desk. That look that makes you want to shrink to half your size and sit right back down. It’s ok. We’ve all been there.

We humans are social creatures, and our biggest barrier to change is often the fear of what other people will think. Social anxiety can paralyze us even when it comes to taking action that will improve our lives.

So how do we overcome the fear of standing out and rally the courage to stand up for our health? Here are seven strategies for keeping cool, calm, and moving in social situations.

#1    Start when you’re alone

The easiest way to ensure that you stick to your new movement habits in social settings is to practice them by yourself. If you want to stand up more, try doing it first when you’re in a comfortable setting alone. Stand up or stretch while watching TV. When you’re working on your own at home or in your office, stand up every 30-minutes or so by setting an alarm reminder on your phone. 

Moving regularly so that it becomes a habit and comes naturally is the first step to feeling comfortable doing something similar around other people and moving with confidence in the real world.   

#2    Seek out an environment that supports you

Our environments shape us; taking the time to choose a supportive environment, even for a few hours, will make it so much easier to achieve your movement goals. For example, choose high top tables or counters to make choosing to stand up an easier and convenient choice. In a row of chairs, choose the seat closer to the aisle or the back of the room so you can stand up without being a distraction. Invite your co-worker to meet at a coffee shop or anywhere other than at your desk or in your office so you have a chance to get a walk in. Consider creating a setting where movement is so natural people won’t even notice! If they do, onto tip #3. 

#3    Make it clear up front

 If you’re going into a conversation where you think you might want to stand up, say something first! Preface your conversation by giving your companion or colleague a heads up that you might want to stand at some point during your time together. That way, when do you get up, you don’t have to explain yourself again and the conversation can keep flowing. Keep it short and sweet: “Just so you know, I might get up and stand while we’re talking. It just helps me concentrate better or it helps alleviate pain in my lower back so I can stay focused.” Setting expectations in the beginning gets any awkwardness out of the way, and will motivate you to actually take a stand!  

#4    Internalize the excuse, verbalize the reason

So often, we try to make our actions less threatening by minimizing ourselves. We say things like, “This is really strange, but...” or, “I know this is weird, but I do this standing thing...”. Owning your own actions will not only help others respect your decisions, but will help you stand a little taller. If you find that negative script playing in your head, my advice is to internalize your negative excuse (let it play as an inner monologue if you need to), and say out loud the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. 

#5    Don’t force it on others

Explaining yourself doesn’t mean preaching. Your choices, while they may be really positive, are about you and only you. When you’re explaining your movement habits to others, make sure your language is you-specific: “I like to stand because my body feels better that way. It’s something I like to do. You’re welcome to join me, but no pressure if you don’t.” People are much more likely to be understanding, and even encouraging, if they don’t feel like they’re being judged.

#6     Think of yourself as a role model

Odds are, you’re not the only one who wants to stay healthy and fit. The people around you might be waiting for someone to give them permission to seek out more movement in their life. Rather than being the odd one out, think of yourself as a trailblazer, who can make change possible for others. You never know when your good habits can make a difference for someone else.

#7    Treat yourself with compassion

We all encounter challenges, both internal and external, when we’re trying to make changes in our lives. Sometimes things will get awkward, and we’ll wish they’d gone differently. Those moments, while real, are not reasons for giving up. They’re part of the natural process of change. Expect there to be some bumps in the road, that keep you in your seat sometimes, but don’t let them discourage you. Health and wellness is a journey, and while things might not be comfortable at first, they’ll get easier with practice. So cut yourself some slack, stay positive, and keep moving!

Was this blog post helpful? Or have other questions about how to fitstyle your life? Leave me a comment below.