Stories of Men

Could you survive a day without your phone? Here’s why you should try

Your alarm has gone off. You’re a bit frazzled. You rub your eyes, stretch a little, and you’re about to get out of bed. Maybe you’ll have a shower, get some breakfast, go and brush your teeth…

But what do you do first? What can you not leave the bed without doing?

If you’re anything like me then you’ll be turning over and having a look at your phone.

You’ll want to see if anyone’s messaged you from the night before. You’ll want to have a quick look at the news stories of the day or check for new videos on YouTube.

You won’t even do it consciously, it’ll be a reflex reaction. You’ll just reach out to that place right next to your bed, where your phone has been waiting for you all night and you’ll start your day with a scroll.

What you’re doing is providing yourself with an instant dopamine hit, which is one of the worst things you can do to start your day. (Check this article for more information on dopamine).

And then, guess what?! You’ll want more, more, more. The pleasure train never ends….’take me to pleasure town, please, sir’.

Especially if, like me, you have any experience of social anxiety. When I start the day by instantly checking my phone, I’m increasing my levels of stress and discomfort before the day has even got going. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the day to come.

However, I’ve learnt that if I start the day mindfully, the day as a whole goes much more smoothly.

For me, a mindful start to the day involves taking a cold shower, which really helps to get my juices flowing. I feel ALIVE. My body is loving me for it. You’re instantly activating your vagus nerve.

This nerve facilitates messages back and forth from the brain to the body.  

I then follow this up with at least 30 minutes of meditation. I used to always do 20 minutes of meditation a day but I was still experiencing anxiety. A mate recommended I upped it to 30. As soon as I did this, no more anxiety. Hallelujah!

This means I’m fully alert and ready to take on whatever comes my way; including the most unwanted of messages or the most unexpected of social media updates.

On the topic of unexpected social media updates, listen to Ross as he tell his story of the horror of waking up from a drunken night to realise just how public his shenanigans had become. Not a story you would want to wake up to first thing.

What he did the night before wouldn’t have felt as bad next day if he hadn’t checked his phone immediately after waking up.

But how do you avoid that instant reaction, that reaching for the dopamine hit that is so automatically ingrained within us?

Well, firstly, think about this: where do you keep your phone whilst you’re sleeping?

This might sound like a strange one but it’s actually a really important question. Whichever side of the bed you keep your phone on is the wrong side of the bed to get out of (see what I did there?)

So DON’T keep your phone beside your bed at all

Have it far enough away from you so that you need to get out of bed to access it. That means the effort it’ll take to reach it is the same effort it’ll take to go and do something much more productive as a way of starting your day.

You’ll have less need to hit the snooze button as you’ll be awake anyway.

It’ll also mean that you’ll have actually given your brain a chance to wake up properly before being bombarded by all the information contained on that phone.

Get up. Turn off your alarm and then leave your phone where it is. Untouched.

Bonus points if you use an alarm clock instead of a phone as your alarm. These can cost £15 on Amazon for a basic one which is all you need.

But separating ourselves from our phones is not just something we should be concerned about first thing in the morning.

Think about all the ways in which you distract yourself while out-and-about with your phone on you: the constant likes, reactions, video clips, and endless scrolling. 

Think about all of the things you could be doing instead.

So often we don’t even really want to do these things. We do them mindlessly simply because the phone is there. It’s a form of escapism and from the mundanity of aspects of modern life.

So, here’s an idea: stop taking your phone everywhere you go.

“Ah,” you’ll say, “but what if an emergency happens?” “What if I need to let someone know I’m going to be late for an appointment or a meet-up?”.

Good points. So let me make a follow-up suggestion. How about you get yourself a 2nd phone? 

No, not another smartphone, obviously, but a basic phone. You know the ones we had back when all we needed to use them for was calling people?

If it’s one of those fantastic Nokia 3310’s you’ve had lying in the cupboard for 10 years +, get that out! You can play on ‘Snake 2’ if you must 🙂 What an upgrade it was where the snake could actually go through walls…revolutionary back in the day!

I have a 2nd phone that I take out with me when I’m off to visit friends. One of my friends lives in Guildford, a one hour train ride away, and I have this phone for the sole purpose of contacting her if my train is delayed or I’m going to be late for any reason. 

More often than not, I don’t even use it. However, we’ve all been experiencing the delights of train strikes for a while now so it comes in handy!

The phone has no internet capacity, so there will be no chance of me ending up online. I am distraction free and I can focus on actually looking out of the window and enjoying the landscape during my journey. Or reading a good book.

I might have a look around the cabin and pay attention to real people. I might even smile at them and enjoy the experience of two human beings briefly connecting with each other in 3-dimensional space. What a novel idea eh?!

Before I get too poetic, just let me say that, without the constant distraction of our phones, the world can be a pretty interesting place

Listen to this story where David talks about how he was at risk of ruining his marriage simply because he didn’t take the time to pay attention to what was right in front of him.

So try it yourself: leave your phone at home.

If you’re going to the gym, ask yourself: Do I really need my phone? Are there any messages so important that they can’t wait for an hour until I’ve finished doing something purely for myself?

For a final thought, I want to share this quotation from Glennon Doyle and her book Untamed: 

“When we hand our children phones we steal their boredom from them. We are raising kids with commodified views of sex, lack of real connection, filtered concepts of what it means to be human. As a result, we are raising a generation of writers who will never write, artists who will never doodle, chefs who will never make a mess of the kitchen.”

This quote really hit me when I read it. 

Don’t let mobile phone use steal your or your children’s potential.

Leave the phone at home.

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3

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I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years

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Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.

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I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

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Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

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Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

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Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  

 

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Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

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I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.

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Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

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I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 
 
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Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

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Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

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I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 
 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!

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Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

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Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.