Are you one of those who dread Monday morning ‘Catch-up’ calls which are less about catching up but more about how stressful the week is going to be? You’re not alone! It’s not just catch up calls, but zoom calls in general can sometimes be stressful.
While remote work focuses on decreasing stress by increasing the level of mutual trust, some remote companies tend to increase stress by scheduling meetings that could have been a simple email. Zoom calls can be stressful, and the anxiety is real!
In this article, we’ll explore reasons for zoom anxiety and ways to deal with it. But first, we’ll first take a look at what zoom anxiety really means.
What is ‘Zoom Anxiety’?
Zoom anxiety is the physical or mental feeling of distress caused by video conferencing.
Note that the word ‘Zoom,’ like ‘Google,’ is no longer just a noun. We can use it interchangeably with the act of video conferencing. So, ‘zoom fatigue’ is not specific to ‘Zoom’ but extends to similar tools like ‘teams,’ ‘skype,’ ‘meet,’ or ‘facetime.’
In a 2020 survey by a UK-based design agency, 73% of the respondents said they faced ‘Zoom Anxiety’ during the pandemic year. About 80% felt that technical problems during video calls and not knowing how to fix them caused distress. The survey also stated that the task of presenting on a video call was the most stressful.
Another study conducted by a Stanford researcher systematically deconstructs ‘Zoom fatigue’ from a psychological perspective.
Jeremy Bailenson, the author of the study, lists four reasons video chats cause anxiety and fatigue:
- Too much screen time.
- Seeing yourself constantly during video calls can be fatiguing.
- Video chats, unlike telephonic conversations, restrict our mobility.
- Unlike other forms of communication, video chats require much attention to understand non-verbal gestures and tone of voice.
Zoom Anxiety is Real- 3 Reasons Why We Have it
- How Do I Look On Zoom?
Looking good on Zoom is everyone’s dream. Getting the perfect combination of light, camera, background, and posture is difficult. Constantly looking at ourselves to change the way we look increases our anxiety. Furthermore, we tend to focus more on our reflections than on the actual meeting. It creates an added layer of pressure and a chance of missing out on what is being said during meetings.
- Social Anxiety
Zoom calls are not very different from face-to-face meetings. People with social anxiety in a real-life setting tend to have zoom anxiety in an online environment.
- Technologically Challenged
We are all surrounded by technology. But let’s be honest! Do we know how to use them to their full potential? Even the best of us struggle to use Zoom.
The remote work revolution fueled by the pandemic has pushed many people to work online. Most people today choose to work remotely. Even if it’s a choice, Zoom anxiety can still be genuine. If you’re a person who struggles to get on a zoom call or fears uncertainty, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to deal with Zoom anxiety.
8 Ways To Deal With Zoom Anxiety
- Make Video Calls Interesting
You can control how the zoom meeting should go if you’re the organizer. Try and organize ‘ice-breaker’ sessions before the discussion starts. It will allow your team members to calm down and get comfortable.
If you’re only a participant, try and request the organizer or moderator to organize an ice-breaker.
Another way to make video calls enjoyable is by having fun stories at the start. You can talk about your weekend, your time with friends, or how bad the weather is at your place.
- Keep Your Meetings Short
Zoom calls can be very draining as it requires a high level of attention. Long meetings increase fatigue. As a feedback loop, fatigue can increase anxiety in the next meeting.
Short meetings allow your team members to be at the best of their attention and keep them engaged. Moreover, when sessions are short, everyone looks forward to the next one.
- Switch to 1-1 Sessions
If you’re a small company, you can switch to one-on-one meetings. It allows you to engage more clearly and reduce anxiety. You can be more confident with your teammates. Apart from this, 1-1 sessions will enable you to get to know your team members better.
However, if you’re in a large company, you can have micro-meetings with a maximum of 4 to 5 people. It is better than cramming 20 people into a grid view on your computer.
- Practice Before a Presentation
Zoom presentations can be stressful. Like talking in a boardroom, zoom presentations involve talking in front of multiple people crammed in a grid. What makes it worse is that if some people choose to turn off their cameras, you’ve no way to figure out if they’re still listening or not.
To combat this problem, taking care of what’s in control is best. For the most part, our expression, speech, camera, and lighting are under our control. To bring out your best, it’s a good idea to do a mock presentation to yourself or a friend willing to listen.
- Organize Online Games
Organizing games may not suit every occasion. If you’ve team members who appreciate some fun at the office, organizing online contests can be a good break from everyone’s busy schedule.
Games allow everyone to bond and talk to each other. Non-work-related conversations are something we all need once in a while.
- Hide Self View
If you’re someone who has mirror anxiety, you can choose to change some of the settings on the app. Try to hide your self-view and see how that goes.
Make sure you look good only at the start of the meeting. Repeated checking only adds to the anxiety.
- Identify The Source Of Your Anxiety
Anxiety can sometimes arise from your surroundings. An unwelcome visitor at your door, your pet or baby popping into the screen from nowhere, or your partner bursting into the room unannounced can become a source of anxiety.
While you cannot avoid some things like unwelcome visitors, you have control over other things. For example, if you’re worried about your partner barging into the room, you can tell them that you’d be in a meeting beforehand. Similarly, if you have a cat/dog, you can drop them in a safe place in another room.
- Switch Off Video If It’s Unnecessary
Sometimes, videos are not required. If it’s one of those calls, feel free to switch them off. However, tell your teammates you’d be doing it. When you turn off your video, your anxiety levels reduce drastically.
Zoom Anxiety Can Be Tackled
Zoom and video-conferencing are here to stay. While there’s no way to dodge the idea of video conferencing, you can tackle it.
Haruki Murakami said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”… We say, “Zoom is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”