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Why Alone Time Is What You Should Not Escape From

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Why Alone Time Is What You Should Not Escape From

Though spending time alone is often deemed anti-social or synonymous with loneliness, many of us see spending time alone as a way of recuperating, re-energising and a necessary part of our day. If you’re more introverted, being in the presence of others for long periods of time can be quite draining. Even as an extrovert maybe you just want to escape to a lone corner and read that book you’ve been dying to finish.

While socialising is an important part of human nature, there are countless reasons why spending time by yourself is a great experience and an asset to your mindset, perspective and happiness in life. If you love to be by yourself and cherish your alone time then don’t feel that, in doing so, you are in any way deemed far from normal. The relationship we have with ourselves is just as important as the ones we have with others. Here are 8 amazing benefits of being alone and spending that all-important time with ourselves.

1. You Learn Things About Yourself

One of the best things you gain from spending time by yourself is getting to know yourself better. The problem with constant socialising, interacting and being around others is that we never truly stop and learn about ourselves. By spending time alone, we start to understand our own perspective without the influence of others. We can even discover many of our weaknesses and correct them to better ourselves.

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Sometimes we need the space to figure out who we really are and what we really want out of life, which can be hard to do if we’re bombarded by other people’s opinions and ideals that get in the way of our own.

2. It Helps You Appreciate What You Have

Being immersed in your own world away from others, allows you to appreciate the things you have in your life whether it’s material possessions or even people. You become more aware of the things in your life that many people take for granted. You actually use the stuff you’ve spent money on more often. Taking time away from your loved ones can also give you a sense of gratitude towards them.This gives you a stronger relationship when you do next spend time with them.

3. You Become More Focused

This doesn’t just mean focusing on yourself, but also focusing on your tasks. We can sometimes get carried away with the action without thinking about why we take these actions or what we are trying to achieve. Being by yourself can help hone in on what you are doing without distraction or pressure from others.

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4. You Become Less Dependent On Others

Independence is a major benefit of spending time alone. The constant need to be around people comes from the fear that you’ll be lonely without them. This really is just running away from some aspect of yourself that you don’t want to look at or acknowledge. We don’t need as much interaction as our society deems the right amount to be. Most of the time socialising is just a distraction from the fear of loneliness which only exists in the mind.

By spending time alone with yourself, you learn to depend only on yourself and harbour your own perspectives and beliefs needed to make your own, unique journey in this world.

5. Makes You More Efficient

A lot of people waste time finding ways to fill their day. While some of these activities can be meaningful, a lot of the time, they just exist to fill in gaps that can be used more efficiently. When we’re alone, the lessening of interaction causes us to do more of what needs to get done. Being comfortable with spending time alone with yourself makes you realise the unnecessary things you do to distract yourself, thus enabling you to eliminate the excess clutter from your life.

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6. You Slow Down And Become More Mindful

Spending time with others causes us to rush around living busy lives. While this can be beneficial, it takes away our awareness of the present moment. Our brains need a break from all the interaction and information that it processes on a daily basis. We need to create a space where we can be more mindful of what we’re doing and what is around us.

Mindfulness plays a huge role in our happiness, so it’s important to take time out and really be present in the moment, connecting with ourselves and the world around us. Being alone allows us to do this by slowing down and being more aware of life and our place in it. Sitting by ourselves in a quiet place can be a great opportunity to get into a meditative state, which doesn’t have to involve mediation, but activities such as walking, writing, creating something or reading that allows your mind to slow down and focus.

7. Allows You To Live A More Simple Life

Our modern society means we are often overwhelmed by expectations and this leads us to do things we feel we should do, want to do or need to do resulting in a sense of bewilderment, feelings of lack and even avoidance issues. By being alone we can savour a more simple life away from excess daily societal pressures. This means more time to become who we want to be on our own terms and appreciate a life where we dismiss unnecessary additions to our already crowded lives.

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8. You Realise You’re Enough To Make Yourself Happy

There are many benefits of being alone, but the main one is realising and accepting that you are the number one reason for your happiness. You can only achieve this if you spend the necessary time understanding yourself. Know that you are enough in this world to make yourself happy. Happiness doesn’t exist outside of us – it comes from within and everything else is just an added extra. Spending time alone provides us with the space we need to depend on ourselves to create our own, unique happiness.

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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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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