t’s been a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and while many people are experiencing a “Zoom fatigue”, there are some people like me who get anxious while using video chat platforms. Seeing myself constantly in real-time makes me more critical of myself. It’s similar to having negative emotional feelings of seeing myself in a mirror. Rather than listening to the speaker in the meeting, I’m criticizing my appearance and signaling out my flaws. Sometimes I end up comparing myself to all my beautiful co-workers. “Am I photogenic enough?” “Would moving the camera a certain angle help me look more attractive?”
There’s also heightened self-consciousness with my behavior when there are multiple people to focus on in gallery view. When I speak, I’m unsure if people’s facial expressions and body language are in response to what I said or if there’s an external factor giving off a negative vibe such as kids screaming in the background or a pet distracting them for wanting attention. Or when there’s silence after a question, it can get nerve-wrecking not knowing if people cared about what you said or if you simply presented your perspective that was understandable to everyone.
To help combat these issues, you can change the Zoom view to only show the person who is speaking. This way, you don’t see the row or column of people to compare to. You can also turn off your camera or minimize the Zoom screen. Audio only allows people to listen attentively or maximize your time if you need to multitask. If having your video on is mandatory by your employer, let your supervisor know how you’re feeling anxiety or Zoom fatigue. Communication is key so there’s no misunderstandings.
Figure out a schedule that works for you. If you can control some of the meeting schedules such as one-on-one meetings, have them at a day or time that’s convenient for you especially if you have kids at home. Schedule breaks in between meetings and relieve some of the stress. You can stretch, eat a snack, or pet your dog or cat.
Select positive memories to be replayed in your mind rather than focusing on the negative ones. You can also ask co-workers and supervisors for feedback on comments you made or the presentation you gave after a video conference. The more positive participation you have, the easier the experience will become.