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6 Lessons From A Year Without Facebook

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6 Lessons From A Year Without Facebook

I check my social media feeds often and compulsively. When I wake up, before I got to bed, whenever I sit on a bus, wait in a line, or eat alone. Sometimes, I notice I am scrolling through a feed with no memory of opening the app, or I log out, only to log in again 5 minutes later. Any small moment of boredom is diverted to checking on the lives of my friends.

That is, I did do those things until January 1st 2015, when I quit. For a year. I had read about the increasing number of studies linking social media to stress and depression, and numerous articles about the benefits of quitting. So my New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to give up social media for a year and see the difference for myself.

It didn’t always go smoothly, and sometimes I would find myself idly flicking through updates. I posted on Facebook once to thank people for leaving birthday messages (it seemed very rude not to), and another time to announce that I was eating a quiche during the Super Bowl, which seemed so important at the time, but in retrospect was a moment of defeat.

However, I cut down my use of social media by roughly 98% compared to the year before, and that was good enough to be able to feel the effects. Here’s what I discovered.

1. I had much more free time

As I spent less time on social media, I found myself spending less idle, unconscious time on other websites as well. Without scrolling through all the links to pictures of funny signs, angry articles about politics, and videos of cats falling off things, I didn’t visit other addictive websites and end up in long chains of clicks.

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I read 40 more books in my year off than I had the previous year, all using time I would otherwise have spent clicking through social media and the links I found there. You don’t have to spend it on reading, but most people would benefit from exchanging at least some of their social media time for something they find more productive or more relaxing. Your fourth visit of the day to Facebook is neither of those things.

2. I was less distracted, and spent much more time taking in my surroundings

There were plenty of instances at bars or coffee shops where a friend would leave the table and I would be briefly alone, suddenly craving my phone. That urge to check in during those moments eventually disappeared and I could absorb the atmosphere of a place or watch the people around me instead, which I found more rewarding.

3. I enjoyed moments more, but missed sharing them later

As I gradually lost the urge to share everything I was doing at the time it was happening, I could better appreciate things for myself. I wasn’t suddenly living perfectly in the moment just because I was absent from social media, but it was a barrier removed. It’s not wrong to want to share the things that have happened in your life, even the small things, but rarely does it have to be right at the time they are going on.

However, because of the rules of my decision, I also lost the opportunity to share with my family and friends the things I was doing after they happened. This year I camped surrounded by wild elephants in Botswana, went sandboarding for the first time, and ate a lot of good sushi. But I didn’t share any of that stuff, just one thing about a quiche.

4. I felt more disconnected, but that made me socialize more

Like many people, I have friends and family spread all over the world, but I don’t know as much about what they have done in the last year. Life without social media was, in some ways, more lonely.

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On the other hand, I was much more likely to email or call them, and more motivated to go out and do something with my friends who are nearby. Social media is similar enough to genuine social interaction that sometimes it feels like too much effort to make real life arrangements as well, but only connecting through a screen is just not as fulfilling.

It’s like filling up on snacks and then not wanting your dinner.

5. Seeing friends in person was more interesting

My friends were often surprised that I didn’t already know their recent news, and I noticed for the first time how often people’s stories about themselves start with “you probably saw that…”

For the first time in years, people had the opportunity to tell me about their lives and see my reaction in person, instead of rehashing old events I already knew from the internet.

6. I missed small connections

Not using social media took away the opportunities for small interactions, such as likes and comments, and I missed these small connections which aren’t present elsewhere. If someone I knew from college had completed a marathon, or a distant relation passed their driving test, I couldn’t comment to congratulate them, and I wouldn’t have known about it anyway.

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That’s a whole range of positive social connections which I lost without social media.

How to use social media in a better way

The dangers of social media I had read about were very clear to me because of their absence in my year off, but I also learned to appreciate having platforms which allow us to be more connected to the people we know, wherever they are, and to connect with them in more ways than we had before.

The articles about the downsides often ignore all the good aspects of social media and recommend quitting altogether, but that isn’t what I concluded. They are good tools, we just have to learn how to use them properly.

I never want to go back to checking my Facebook newsfeed 7 times in a day, and I never want to again miss the atmosphere in a restaurant because they have wifi and I can post about it online instead. But after a year without social media, I am ready to return in a more cautious way.

From my battles in quitting for a year, here is my top advice.

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1. Quit altogether for 30 days

Just one month is enough to see it for yourself — the people in this Danish study noticed a difference in a week — and monitor the changes with a one-line summary each day.

2. Turn off notifications

No one posts on your wall in an emergency, and you don’t need more reminders to log in.

3. Delete the mobile apps

It puts a small barrier in your way, and is the easiest way to cut down. You can still use the web browser on your mobile devices with bit more effort.

4. Limit yourself to one session a day

When you only have one session on social media each day, it is more of a conscious decision. If you feel the compulsion to check again, remember you can tomorrow.

5. Allow yourself to share anything you like, but you have to wait at least 1 hour

You won’t be distracted from the things you are doing when they are going on, but also won’t miss out on sharing them later.

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6. Seriously, quit for 30 days

There’s no end of reasons and research to tell you it’s a good idea, and there’s no better way than to find out the difference for yourself.

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6 Lessons From A Year Without Facebook

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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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