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Why You Should Disconnect from Social Networks Once In A While

Why You Should Disconnect from Social Networks Once In A While
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Last week, I embarked on my month long challenge from some of the social media networks I frequent a lot, too much in fact. Yesterday was the end to my first week of the challenge.

Here’s an overview of my routine before I took the challenge.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is reach for my phone, off my alarm, and scroll for updated feeds on my phone. During my commute to work, I would be checking several social apps updates, and usually find the same news.

Over meals, I would be at times be posting pictures of new dishes or restaurants. I would constantly be conscious of checking in, trying to learn ways to capture selfies, sieving out better photos to upload and thinking up witty posts. At home, I would be multitasking and sub-consciously scrolling and re-scrolling feeds even when there are no updates. At the same time, I was also subscribed to email newsletters from same sites.

Recently, I found myself being hooked on to constantly checking for feeds and notifications. It was eating up a lot of my time and energy. Besides, I was allocating a portion of my attention to mindless scrolling, wishing for things that didn’t matter to me and wasting time unnecessarily.

The Start of My Challenge

A day before my challenge, I posted a note on my personal page that I was taking a month break. I then proceeded to uninstall the apps on my phone. On the first day of my challenge, I had to consciously remind myself to stop reaching out for my phone or stop wondering if anyone has liked my last post.

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On the second day, I was still slightly affected by the lack of connection with my friends (acquaintances) virtually. I was tempted to steal a peek from the shoulders of others, but I managed to pull myself away. I began to unsubscribe from emails that I’d always delete without reading on automatic mode.

The third day, I was able to focus with full attention on my work without reaching out for my phone. Lesser emails were coming in and I took lesser time as well. I gathered that the more important news to keep updated would be from the news platform so I subscribed to notifications from news station.

On the fourth day, I started paying attention to my surrounding and noticed that most were looking into their phones either on social feed or watching videos. At meal times, I felt a tad conscious of not taking photo or reading on phone while eating.

On the fifth day, I began reading more news from news notification, unsubscribed from more newsletters that I had signed up earlier and had more quality emails coming to me like LifeHack and Highbrow. I completed my work lists that I had been putting off for a while without being interrupted.

On the sixth day, I feel more productive and less consumed by the addiction to my phone. I slept earlier.

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Today, I am not as tempted to log in to the social media sites nor hooked on to my phone as the week before.

Here’s what I realized…

While it was hard to disconnect myself from the more than ever connected world, I began to slowly realize and understand certain aspects of me that I’ve never paid attention to.

It was hard to turn off, but when we do, our senses open up more. I began to enjoy my meals without having to religiously take photos. I visited places without bothering with connection to check in or take selfies. I immerse myself in the experience and the company I am with. I didn’t even have to think of what to post, re-write my thoughts or edit my grammar, let alone thinking if someone has liked my photos or posts. I began to enjoy the scenery and watch in awe how the city has changed when I was busy looking down.

Clear the mindless clutters. There’s something about them that hooks us on. Be it watching videos after videos, or reading posts of others, it seems like a never-ending process. By the time we realize it, we’ve probably spent a few hours just doing the finger exercise and become too tired to do anything else. Plus, most of the stuffs we see, though entertaining, are not as important as we think. A week into the challenge, I don’t feel I’m missing out much at all.

More time for productive work. I was able to do more other than being on the apps all the time. I spent time re-organizing my tasks and schedules. I cleaned up my inbox. I wrote more articles. I completed more work in office and to-do lists at home. I am clearing myself of my mind clutter at the same time.

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Switching off is necessary to re-connect with ourselves. Being connect all the time keeps us engaged all the time, we would always be switched on mentally, one way or another as there would always be a constant reminder ringing in our heads to check these apps and read those notifications. I made time to cook my own meals, read books and chew with mindfulness during my meals. I’m sleeping earlier and reading less in the dark which is great for my eyes. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to stretch and look outside the window, smiling to be greeted by dawn.

In a matter of days, my lifestyle has changed just by removing one habit that I have unhealthily built up and incorporated into my lifestyle without me realizing it. Instead of feeling the constant need to check my phone or reaching out and automatically opening apps to check for repeating feeds, I started exploring other channels and find myself enjoying more useful and quality articles and sites that will help me grow.

Disconnecting has brought me closer to reality, I re-learned how to look up when walking, to spend time being connected with those I care and improved my sleep quality.

We are so connected virtually yet we’re disconnected from those we actually care about in reality.

While being great communication tools, we get engulfed in the emotional and psychological ties when we get captivated by them. At the end of the day, would the likes and loves we collect from our selfies, photos and photos have meant anything? Would we miss the pages we follow fervently if they’re gone one day?

I am on my second week of challenge and I find myself holding on less and less to online connections. I began to pay more attention to real connections (real conversations over meals, no risking my life on the phone when walking, making time to prioritize real work over notifications) and I am enjoying every moment of it.

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If you are up for the challenge, try it for a week and see what resistances you will feel (even now thinking about not being able to check your feeds and notifications), the effects during the challenge and what happens when you have been disconnected for a week.

What would you have missed?

Or would you be missed at all?

I’d think not, but even if you would be missed at all, the real connections would know where and how to reach you.

Featured photo credit: Pablo via pablo.buffer.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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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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