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15 Reasons Backpackers Rock

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15 Reasons Backpackers Rock

Backpackers enjoy adventures into unknown territory, meeting new people and above all gaining a much deeper understanding of the world we live in. This is far superior to the typical tourist who will rarely encounter exciting challenges and never learn new skills. Backpacking is excellent training in back-to-basics living which is often envied by preppers. Here are 15 reasons why backpackers rock.

1. They know how to adapt.

Backpackers have a limited budget. This means they have to camp or sleep in hostels which may mean sharing a dormitory with lots of others. They know how to make the best of far from ideal sleeping accommodation. If they have been around Europe, they can recommend some great hostels.  The knowledge that this means they can travel for longer and much further is what keeps them going.

2. They know the best ways to hitchhike.

Often when on long trails, there may be a need to re-supply with food and other essential items. Once on the road, they have to hitchhike to the nearest town to stock up. They know that they have to freshen up beforehand, smile and locate near a place where it is easy for the driver to pull over.

3. They know exactly how to pack.

They know exactly what they need for a long trek in the wild. They can plan ahead for food needs, clothing in extreme temperatures and navigation gear to help them when they may get lost. They also know what they can do without as they develop more backcountry skills.

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4. They are expert nutritionists.

One of the key elements will be knowing what is the best, lightest and most nutritious food they have to carry as this will lighten the backpack considerably. They dispense with containers as far as possible and use ziplock bags. They don’t normally bother with water content foods such as fruit and prepared soups. They know that opting for freeze-dried or powdered foods which can be mixed with water at the campsite is going to save on weight.

5. They know how to plan a trip.

They know that they will have to estimate travelling time and also take into account some extreme weather conditions and plan accordingly. They know that every time they climb 1000 feet, the temperature is liable to drop by at least 3 degrees. Backpackers are aware of logistic issues such as where to stock up on supplies and what transportation will be essential. They know how to identify a safe campsite and will be aware of dangers posed by animals and poisonous plants.

6. They stay in shape.

Backpackers have to be fit and well. Lots of people think that having strong legs is enough for all that walking. The wise backpacker knows that a strong lower back and core are essential for carrying weight. They regularly work out on a rowing machine or just by cycling. They are also aware of the importance of having a medical check up just to see if there are any underlying health problems such as a heart condition. Not much point in calling 911 in the wilderness!

7. They know when to cross icy rivers.

They have learned that the best time to cross a dodgy river is in the morning. This is because the evening and night temperatures have cooled the water flow to a minimum. Later in the day, under the sun, the rivers tend to grow in volume and are more dangerous to cross.

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8. They know how to start a fire.

They know that in an emergency situation or if they have to keep warm in very cold temperatures, they have to know how to start a fire. I know some backpackers who claim they know at least five ways of starting a fire. They know that they can process firewood, have a ferro rod, a survival knife and some cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.

9. They know about a country’s culture.

Backpackers who do their homework are always well rewarded. They know that it may not be politically correct to give vent to their opinions on the government, monarchy, legal system or drugs laws in public. The savvy backpacker would never insult the royal family in Thailand!

10. They will end up in random places.

Backpackers always have great stories to tell about situations or places where they had never planned to be. They will also have great anecdotes to tell about fascinating people they have met. The normal tourist will never be able to compete, as everything is so tightly organized for them.

11. They are content with very few things.

When they travel on a tight budget with very little weight, they realize how possessions, clothes and money and comfort do not matter at all. What matters is the adventure, the joy of the open road and the lack of a fixed timetable. Knowing this makes them feel content with very little.

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12. They are more open-minded.

The great thing about backpackers is that they have seen so many different cultures and people all over the world that their world view is broad and tolerant. They are rarely bigoted and are also much more relaxed as they have experienced real danger or risky situations.

13. They love the night sky.

Ask any backpacker if they have ever experienced the pleasure of sleeping under a star lit sky. They will be enthusiastic because there are fewer and fewer places to see the night sky without the glare of urban lights, industrialization and pollution. Just think that a city dweller can only see about 500 stars whereas a backpacker in an International Dark Sky Park can see up to 15,000!

14. They are great map readers.

Experienced backpackers will know how to use a compass and read a map. Not many people can do that nowadays. But some backpackers rarely take the trouble to learn, which is foolish. This is essential when they may get lost and this basic skill can save a life!

15. They know how to purify water.

Backpackers always know about how important it is to be able to purify water because this is a rather heavy item to carry! In addition, they also know that 90% of the world’s water is not safe to drink without being purified. The USA backcountry and wilderness are no exception. Wise backpackers will know the ins and outs of chemical, chlorine or iodine treatment.

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Many backpackers are only too keenly aware of the need to protect the environment. That is why they know all about the Leave No Trace rules and etiquette. The next time you meet backpackers, ask them!

Featured photo credit: Backpackers Road/Tim Berger via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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