Updated: Mar 27, 2021
I've been having a number of supportive conversations with friends and clients lately about the very real ravages of living and woking in the hellish ZoomScape these days.
Until Mark Zuckerberg finishes reinventing the internet into a truly self-sustaining virtual world, it seems the Zoom workplace is largely here to stay
According to a recent Stanford study, there are some primary drivers of sub-conscious Zoom fatigue which we can work to alleviate. And it's a good thing we're adapting, because many companies both large and small do not anticipate returning to in-person work if they can avoid it. Hybrid and work-at-home models, it seems, are the way of the future.
So what are some simple, easy fixes that you can do today to ease Zoom fatigue and stress?
1) Decrease screen size and screen proximity
Research has shown that our sub-conscious is over-activated when someone is between 1 and 2 feet from our face. We have an intuitive sense that we are either about to be fighting or getting intimate with that person. So do yourself a favor and move the screen further back. It will chill out your nervous system and help decrease stressors you may not even be fully aware of.
I've personally taken to using my phone or tablet more frequently on video calls and I keep them at the back of the desk, not right up close. It's more important to listen well and practice being present than it is to spend time observing everyone's facial features and analyzing their backgrounds ;-)
2) Turn off self-view
This one has been very beneficial for me personally. It's not that I obsess over my appearance (although those of you who know me know that I love a well-organized and zen Zoom background if it's a work or client call). It's just that self-view is...somehow...very distracting -- a constant reminder that I am being watched. This sense of being watched constantly creates an underlying discomfort. So when you start the call, get seated in your usual spot, center your image, then go to the meeting settings tab to kill that self-view bugaboo. Pretty soon, you'll start to wonder why you ever had it on to begin with.
3) Stay Healthy and Get Grounded!
A lot of folks working from home have taken to unhealthy habits to get through the monotony and fatigue of the work day. On the extreme end, it is now well-documented that alcohol use has risen during the lockdown periods. Drinking alcohol while on work calls has certainly seen an increase, although excessive indulgence in caffeinated beverages is also reportedly rising.
Indulging in chocolate or other sugary sweets is also on the upswing, as people need stimulation to stay in the moment -- stimulation they might ordinarily be getting from moving from one meeting location to another and having person-to-person interactions that are more satisfying to their nervous system.
You know me, so of course I'm going to remind you about the power of breathwork and stretching. If you are in a meeting where video is optional, get up and walk around or simply do some stretches in your chair.
If you're trying to cut back on coffee intake, now might be a good time to consider switching to Green Tea and Matcha Green Tea. The health and antioxidant properties of traditional hot matcha tea are out of this world. I like shopping Art of Tea for my matcha products and ritual tea-making accessories. You can also usually get great matcha at your local Asian grocery store for a reasonable price. It's going to be more conventionally sourced than these artisanal and organic vendors, but still a better option than staying on that coffee train for however many stops it takes to get to Crazytown.
For supercharging your grounding experience, a particularly solid hack is to use the Earthing mat from earthing.com. This dynamite little innovation is a long, rectangular mousepad-type device which plugs directly into the grounding port on a standard 3-prong plug. Place the grounding mat under your bare feet or under your keyboard to send soothing, refreshing 7.83 Hz earth tones through your body.
4) Sync and ground with co-workers
Once you've mastered your own breathing and grounding practices, why not invite others on the call to join you? Simply synchronizing your breathing or doing a small, body-based check-in at the start of a call can work wonders for getting everyone on the same page.
The simplest thing you can do is to invite everyone to do the 6-6 regulation breath practice. I talk about it a little in my Intro to Breathwork and Regulation breath video which you can find here. Remind everyone that a short check-in and mindfulness exercise can serve not only to refresh the mind, but can also actually deepen communication and productivity.
If you're planning a motivational meeting or would like something different for a bonding exercise on one of your team calls, please note that I can also be hired to help add something unique to the work day.
As always, drop me a line or comment below to share your own experiences and ideas.
I've adapted some of this information from a Stanford study that was recently completed to help answer some of people's questions about Zoom fatigue. You can find the full article here.