Something strange happened the other day. I had been using zoom for calls and webinars for most of the day while continuing physical distancing at home here in New York City. Suddenly, my phone rang—a friend was calling to check in and say hello. I was thrilled. Finally… an opportunity to turn off the computer and relax.
Perhaps you’ve been feeling as I did then. Zoom left me oversaturated, overstimulated, restless, and drained by the end of the day. Now I could relax my eyes, chat, move around, feel energetic, and just enjoy the conversation.
How has feeling zoomed-out affected YOU?
When shelter-in-place began, zoom was a novelty for some of us, despite tech challenges. Using it has helped alleviate boredom, isolation, and anxiety. However, I’m sure you weren’t planning on viewing every business meeting, family get-together, and birthday party virtually on a computer screen or device. But now, since the Coronavirus and physical distancing are a fact of life, we really don’t have much of a choice—at least for the near future. To minimize the zoom toll on your health and frame of mind, I’m offering some strategies to help you cope with this “new normal.”
Sitting all day is unhealthy. We know that remaining sedentary without standing up and walking around negatively affects both our mental and physical health. Long periods of sitting can lead to the increased risk of such conditions as heart disease, diabetes, low energy, and chronic back pain. In addition, staring at a screen all day can result in eye fatigue, poor posture, insomnia, increased anxiety, and headaches.
Zoom tip: Stand up and walk around as often as you can. Better yet, grab some extra water in between calls. Frequent stretches—even in your chair—are important, as are resting your eyes and sitting up with straight alignment to avoid slumping over in your chair. Feeling low energy? My saying: “The less you do, the less you want to do.” Think of one easy, simple doing you can incorporate into your everyday routine.
Finding maintaining a real connection difficult while working on zoom? Continually staring at someone on a screen can make maintaining the energy and focus you need challenging. New etiquette suggests that you should maintain eye contact without multitasking or becoming distracted. That type of prolonged intensity can be depleting and exhausting by the end of the day.
Zoom Tip: Whenever possible, take breaks between zoom sessions, so you feel fresh and ready for a new encounter. Going from one to another back-to-back meetings is not the best scenario. Then, choose the Speaker View to minimize becoming overstimulated and distracted by other people on the call and a myriad of details on the screen. Soften your gaze and really connect with what the speaker is conveying. Finally, if possible, try to carve out a special, quiet place for you to work in to minimize distractions, preferably with some accessories and fresh air to create an inviting workspace.
How are you presenting yourself in the call? If you’re on professional calls and meetings while working from home, you’ll need to look presentable and well groomed. Dressing more casually than regular office attire is usually acceptable, but you may feel more confident if you have a neat, work-friendly appearance, as opposed to that “just rolled out of bed” look.
Zoom tip: Knowing that only your top half from the waist up is generally visible to others can seem a relief. However, we’ve all heard stories about people who excused themselves from the meeting without turning off the sound and video. That can invite a potentially embarrassing situation because others will still be tuned in to watch and listen. And when speaking, don’t forget to look directly into the camera—not at the speaker—to maintain eye contact.
While zoom invites a connection to the world, you can feel even more lonely and isolated.
Zoom can make getting together with groups effortless and even fun, but it can also highlight the fact that the situation leaves us with a far from “normal” feeling of connecting with the energy of a group, friend, or loved one. Since each person is assigned their own square on the screen, we can feel isolated and uncomfortable with this new experience in the absence of real physical proximity and connection. Zoom can be a necessary evil—limited visual access is better than none—and cause you to long for physical presence and touch even more than you might otherwise.
Zoom tip: We must remember that a zoom environment can feel a bit awkward, impersonal, and different from a life that we knew, one that was filled with many personal encounters during the day. (Remember hugs and handshakes?) While we’re waiting for those circumstances to perhaps return, or something close, embracing the “new normal” of zoom and other platforms may help us in the meantime to keep our lives moving ahead and our relationships strong.
If you’re continuing your life with the required physical distance, I hope you’ll look at zoom as a much-needed a tool to keep some human “contact” as part of your day during a time of isolation and anxiety. Maintaining self-care is of primary importance right now, so you should take the steps necessary to mitigate some of the fatigue and adverse reactions that come along with this new fact of life.
Remember, if you’re feeling that zoom is beginning to seem more like doom, you’re not alone.. Reach out and let’s talk–but preferably on the phone!