Before you read this post, pause for a moment and take a deep breath, and stretch your neck and shoulders.
I have spent the year balancing my regular work-from-home workload with my board role and stress over my Dad’s health. Now, that stress has been replaced by grief.
It’s all taking a huge toll on my body, and I’m finding myself at the brink of burnout every day.
The problem is that because I’m working from home, I’m experiencing Zoom fatigue, which leaves me more exhausted than a regular day at the office.
It takes a lot of mental energy to process and fully participate in video meetings, and it doesn’t help when you schedule a lot of them in the same day.
I know that I’m not alone by any means. For those of you that are also working from home and using Zoom or other video conferencing tools for work, I’m sure you feel the same way.
Sitting in front of a screen for so long without as many natural breaks – your commute, visits with your coworkers during coffee breaks and lunch, etc. – is just not sustainable. Especially as we are filling the time that we’d normally be commuting with more meetings. (I have a link that I’ll share if I can find it.)
Instead of giving in to Zoom fatigue and giving up on virtual meetings altogether, I’ve been looking into ways to make them a little more energizing and fun.
Here are a few mindfulness and self-care exercises that have helped me so far.
The next time you are about to log into a Zoom meeting, take a minute to do some deep breathing exercises and stretch before you enter the meeting, like I had you do at the beginning of this post. This will help you get into the “zone” for that meeting, so you can feel a little more awake and stay more focused.
If you’re hosting the meeting or event, encourage group participation and have everyone take a moment to breathe and stretch together.
2. Set boundaries
There are a couple different ways to set boundaries with Zoom meetings.
One way is to try to limit how early or late they start, and add a buffer in between when you can. Give yourself some space to grab another cup of coffee, a snack, or anything else to help you power through the rest of the day.
Another way is to try to set regular meetings with certain people. Instead of having various unplanned Zoom meetings, scheduling “standing meetings” will help give you more time to fully plan and prepare for them.
3. This meeting could have been an email”
People have always complained about the number of meetings that could have been taken care of via email. Unfortunately, with teams shifting to remote work, chances are there are a lot of Zoom calls for the sake of having Zoom calls, because it makes people feel more productive and accountable.
The next time you’re invited to a meeting that you really think could be an email, try to get a sense of what the purpose of the meeting is and if the same objectives can be accomplished over email, phone call, text, Slack, or any other communication tool so you don’t have to use Zoom yet again.
4. Turn your camera off
If you don’t have to be on video, don’t be. Turn your video off, mute yourself until you need to speak, and give yourself a chance to focus on the meeting.
As I mentioned earlier, Zoom fatigue happens because video meetings require a lot of extra processing. There’s added distractions like what you look like on camera, how people are perceiving your facial expressions, what they’re doing and how they’re reacting.
By turning your camera off, you can give yourself some space to focus on the person that is speaking or presenting.
5. Get outside when you can
Take every opportunity to go outside. If you’re on a meeting without video and can access it from your phone, sit on your porch, in your car, on a bench, whatever works best for you.
If you can’t take meetings from your phone, look for other opportunities to get outside: go for a walk on lunch or right after work, check out that sunflower field or other outdoor activity you’ve been thinking about on the weekend, have dinner on a patio if you are comfortable doing so.
The fresh air and slightly less screen time will help you feel a little less fatigued.
As I mentioned, I’ve been trying to implement these into my own routine. I still have many, many moments where I feel frazzled and fatigued because I’m still learning, and I feel like I don’t have time to be mindful, but I know that as I practice them more often, they will come a little more naturally to me.
If you’re feeling burned out from your online meetings and events too, try to take the time to implement one or more of these into your next Zoom meeting. Then, let me know which are your favorites!
Resources to Check Out:
What else would you add to this list?