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5 Phone Habits That Are Destroying Your Relationship (And How To Fix Them)

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5 Phone Habits That Are Destroying Your Relationship (And How To Fix Them)

They used to say a man’s best friend is his dog. In the 21st century, it seems that the fluffy pet has been replaced by the smartphone. Everywhere you go these days, half of the population seems to be gazing, tapping, and swiping at their phones. Sometimes, this can be annoying — like those people who charge towards you on the street, heads down, thinking they can successfully walk and text at the same time.

However, when it comes to relationships, being a phone-zombie can have more serious effects. New research shows that romantic partners who devote too much attention to their phones suffer more conflict and experience lower levels of relationship satisfaction, which ultimately can lead to higher levels of depression.

A study of 453 adults from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business looked at the relationship effects of Pphubbing — that is, “partner” phone-snubbing. Unsurprisingly, researchers found that participants felt snubbed and ignored when their romantic partners were constantly distracted by their phones.

The study asked participants a range of questions about their partner’s phone habits including:

  • If there is a lull in our conversation, does my partner check their phone?
  • Does my partner hold their phone in their hand when they are with me?
  • Does my partner always have to have their phone in view when they are with me?
  • Does my partner glance at their cellphone when we’re talking?

Ultimately, the study found that phone snubbing had an indirect negative effect on life satisfaction and depression.

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So, is there anything you can you do about partner phone-snubbing? Well the first thing is to become more mindful. Don’t reach for your phone every time there’s a gap in conversation. But, there are also some practical tips you can apply to ensure your phone doesn’t ruin your relationship.

1. Turn off all your push notifications

Push notifications are the little symbols and icons that pop-up on your phone, even when you’re logged out. Facebook messages, email alerts, Retweets, Instagram Likes. These are all nice things to have, but do you really need to be notified instantly, every time they happen?

The ping of a new notification is often too irresistible to ignore. So, do yourself and your partner a favour: turn off all your push notifications. They’re a distraction and they can destroy intimate moments with your partner.

(Cheater’s tip: if you can’t completely do without push-notifications, at least set them to silent!)

2. Set a cut-off time for work emails and phone calls

Email was supposed to free us from the tyranny of being tied to the work desk. Instead, it has meant that we increasingly bring our work back home with us. Sure, it’s great to have instant access to the latest updates in your work inbox, but ask yourself, do you really need to check your work emails at 10 pm?

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Understandably, if you’re climbing the career ladder or trying to impress your boss, you might want to put in some extra time at home away from the office. But if you’re a 9-5-er and make a habit of reading and responding to work-related matters at home, your employer and your colleagues will eventually just get used to your 24/7 availability. Before you know it, you’ve lost all sense of work-life balance, you burn-out, and your relationship suffers.

So set yourself a cutoff, say 7 pm, as a time for clocking out of your virtual office. After that, be determined not to read any emails or answer any phone calls related to work, unless you think it’s putting your career in jeopardy.

3. Start implementing screen-free time

How many screens have you got at home? Count them: TV, computer, laptop, tablet, phone, gaming console — probably quite a few if you’re like most households. But screens weren’t designed to foster romantic relationships — apart from curling up together on the sofa for some Netflix.

Screen-time is usually about me-time, and this obviously isn’t a great thing for relationships. In an earlier era, troubled couples used to read separate newspapers in silence. These days, we often sit next our loved ones, hypnotized, not by looking into each other’s eyes, but into our iPhones.

Setting aside some dedicated time each night where both of you vow not to spend time in front of the screen (unless it’s something you do together) will create more opportunity for intimacy, conversation, and generally just being together as a couple.

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4. Keep your phone out of view

This hack is super simple and super effective — out of sight, out of mind. What better way to rid yourself of the temptation to pick up your phone at every spare minute than to move it into another room. Don’t use the bedroom for the best results, and try and keep your phone out of the living spaces, maybe in the hallway or even the kitchen.

This way, next time you’re tempted to refresh your Twitter feed, or curious to see if anyone has posted another cat video on Facebook, you’ll be actively forced to get up and fetch your phone, rather than just lazily reaching over the sofa… or your partner.

Even better, keep your phone tethered, on charge — like a dog on a leash. Don’t be tempted to unplug it until you really have to (playing Candy Crush in the bathroom doesn’t count). Soon, you’ll come to realise that life does not come to an end when you’re more than a meter away from your phone. And more importantly, your romantic partner won’t feel like they’re competing for your attention anymore.

5. Turn off your phone 30 minutes before bed

It’s becoming more acceptable to take your phone to bed these days. We kid ourselves that we’re just using it as an alarm clock, deep down we know that’s not true. We’re checking out social media, reading the news, or playing games. A recent survey found that 3% of young people actually sleep with their smartphone in their hand!

According to sleep specialists, the bedroom should be reserved for two things — sleep and sex. The bedroom should be a sanctuary for relaxation and intimacy. Bringing the phone into the bedroom is like inviting the outside world, with all its excitement and stimulation, into a space that should be tranquil, peaceful, and private.

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Another thing to bear in mind is that smartphone screens emit blue light. Recent research has shown that exposing yourself to blue light at night stops the brain from producing melatonin — the “drowsy hormone” that helps us fall asleep.

So, if you want to improve the quality of your relationship AND get better sleep at night, it’s wise to consider a total ban on phones in the bedroom. Give yourself a 30-minute gap between spending time with your phone and hitting the sack. You never know, you might enjoy it.

Featured photo credit: Canalway Cavalcade 2013 – 10/Garry Knight via flickr.com

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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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