Have you been spending a lot of time on Zoom since the start of the pandemic?
Us too. And while we’re endlessly grateful to live in a time when we can stay in touch with friends, colleagues and clients remotely, there’s something about digital communication that leaves us feeling drained.
If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone. A new survey by presentation design agency Buffalo 7 shows that Zoom can trigger anxiety in a whole host of different ways. Drawing on data from 2066 people who work from home, the survey identified anxiety caused by...
- Tech and audio problems
- Fear of not being able to communicate clearly, or be heard or understood
- Confusion about the body language of other people in the conversation
- Concerns about your own appearance
- Having to focus on too many people at once
...to name just a few. Having to present information on a Zoom call came out as the most anxiety-inducing factor for 42% of participants, while 25% were most worried about interviews and 18% most worried about client meetings.
Participants were also asked the simple question: ‘Have you experienced Zoom or video call anxiety this year?’
A staggering 73% said yes.
All of this contributes to fatigue, as discussed by researchers at Stanford University. Working and socialising online can send your nervous system into overdrive and leave you feeling exhausted and low.
It’s clear that we all need to protect our wellbeing online. That means embracing the concept of digital wellness as we continue to carry out various aspects of our day-to-day lives in virtual settings. So how can you build a healthier relationship with digital activity and combat Zoom anxiety?
Use Zoom and Other Online Tools for Peace and Calm
The very first thing you can do to support your wellbeing online is to make sure that at least some of your digital experiences actually calm the nervous system.
If you only ever use Zoom for stressful meetings, teaching, or high-pressure interviews, then you’ll associate Zoom with stress. Over time, it’ll cause more and more anxiety.
But if you also use Zoom to relax and feel better, you’ll balance that stress and cultivate a more positive relationship with living and working digitally.
You can build a wellbeing-boost into your online time by:
- Taking a meditation class or course online — we have several online meditation experiences available at Zen Maitri, including a weekly Pay What You Want Friday meditation
- Scheduling in chats with close friends and family on Zoom, to connect and feel supported
- Joining (or launching) fun or supportive groups that meet on Zoom, like a digital book club, a peer support group focused on a particular kind of project or hobby, or a mental health support group
- Attending live yoga or fitness classes online
- Engaging in therapy with a professional via Zoom. You could directly address Zoom anxiety, as well as benefit from talking therapy for other areas of your life
If you build positive uses of Zoom into your weekly routine, you’ll feel less anxious about the more pressured interactions you have online. Essentially, Zoom itself won’t become a trigger for anxiety, because you’re using it for a balance of things instead of just for work.
Ground Yourself in the Physical World Before a Call or Meeting
When you’ve started to balance your online time with a mix of work and self-care interactions, you can turn your attention to the Zoom meetings that do stress you out. How can you make them feel more manageable? How could you reduce the fatigue that comes after them?
The key to this is understanding why you feel anxious or fatigued. What aspects of Zoom meetings stress you out? What do you worry about the most? What do you focus on before, during, and after a call?
Then you can put a plan in place to minimise the impact of those stressors.
For example, if you spend the hour before a meeting worrying about what you’re going to do with your hands, or what your workspace looks like, or whether your partner/housemate/child/cat is going to interrupt the call and embarrass you, there are simple ways to manage those worries.
You can practice talking naturally, with your usual hand gestures, in front of a mirror. You can set up a workspace at the start of the week and keep it Zoom-ready so you don’t have to frantically tidy up or find a quiet spot in the house before each meeting. You can plan with the other people in your house to make sure you won’t be interrupted — or if you can’t guarantee that no one will walk in, you can let your colleagues or clients know ahead of the call that you’re working from home with kids or animals.
One powerful way to minimise the stress of digital meetings is to create a practice that grounds you in the physical world before you start a call. Once you know what that practice is, you can schedule it in as part of your workday, so you always have time to centre yourself and feel calm and present in your space before you make that cognitive shift to being present online.
Your pre-Zoom practice will be unique to you. But here’s an idea of how it might look:
- Make yourself a cup of herbal tea to sip during the call — we recommend our Focus Tea, with a blend including rosemary and peppermint to help you feel alert and present
Uplift your skin naturally with a nourishing moisturiser, so you feel fresh and have a glow about you — our revitalising Herbal Day Cream is perfect
Sit in your workspace for five minutes before the call, close your eyes, take steady breaths, and focus your awareness on your body
What We Do Online Matters More than Ever
In 2021, the way we spend our time online is increasingly important. Even as we begin to emerge from pandemic restrictions, we’re all going to be working and interacting online far more frequently over the next few years, as the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards virtual work.
So we need to build digital wellness into our lives. Not as a gimmick or a side-thought; but as a crucial element of our time online, to make sure we maintain balance and calm alongside heightened digital demands.