How to Overcome Zoom Meeting AnxietyAlyssa
The coronavirus pandemic made remote work crucial for obvious health reasons, but not everyone easily transitioned to videoconferencing. Although certain restrictions from the pandemic have been lifted and more people are returning to their offices, plenty of companies have taken advantage of this switch and stayed remote. If you’re an employee at one of these remote companies, then you’re probably struggling with the challenges of online work, including Zoom anxiety. If you’re struggling to connect with others via video chat, we’re sharing simple tips on how to overcome Zoom meeting anxiety that can help.
What Is Zoom Anxiety?
Considering that Zoom is a tool that many companies either recently adopted or had already been using, video conferencing is probably going to stick around, even if COVID-19 isn’t. But what is Zoom meeting anxiety, and why is it so common? In-person meetings are usually anxiety-including enough.
Many of us wonder when to listen, when to talk, what to say, how to say it, or we question if anyone was offended? Anxiety on zoom then comes with an additional set of stressors. Do I look directly into the camera? Is my backdrop okay? Am I cutting anyone off?”
Zoom anxiety is actually linked to Zoom fatigue – a strong sense of post-online meeting exhaustion. Anxiety with Zoom also impacts students. One study on anxiety in college students found that 80% experienced more anxiety and difficulty concentrating in virtual classes.1 Although Zoom anxiety isn’t considered another diagnosable type of anxiety, if you do have an anxiety disorder, Zoom meetings could contribute to your symptoms.
Symptoms of Zoom anxiety may include:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Stomach pain
- Forgetting what you’re going to say
- Feeling stressed leading up to the meeting
- Being less productive leading up to the meeting
- Frustrated or out of the loop
- feeling nervous and uneasy during online meetings
- Afraid to speak up or cut into the conversation
For those with social anxiety, Zoom meetings can have a serious effect. And it’s not just Zoom meetings. Any other video chat tools like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Skype can have the same effect.
How to Overcome Zoom Anxiety
Common causes of Zoom anxiety include seeing your own face on the screen, feeling like you can’t move during a meeting, feeling watched by others on the call, and putting out a bigger cognitive load by taking in more social cues than you would by speaking to one person. If you’re experiencing mirror anxiety, self-consciousness, or stage fright during virtual meetings, below are some tips on how to overcome Zoom meeting anxiety that can help.
Minimize Your Mirror
A major contributing factor to Zoom anxiety is seeing your own face on the screen (mirror anxiety.) To avoid this, consider selecting a view that minimizes your screen to make your reflection less visible. That way, you’re focusing more on others in the meeting or the speaker than yourself. There’s also a “Hide Self View” option on Zoom. You can choose to remove your reflection completely to help you better focus on others in the meeting and make it seem more like an in-person interaction.
Turn Your Video Off
When possible, consider turning your video off completely. The majority of the anxiety caused by Zoom meetings stems from seeing ourselves and knowing that we’re being seen by others. Thoughts like “did they see me do that?” and “who’s looking at me now?” may swim in your mind, causing anxiety. If possible, turn off your camera and go audio-only.
You could also minimize the screens of others in the meeting and treat it like a phone call. This way, you could reduce your anxiety even if going audio-only isn’t an option for you.
Change Settings to ‘Speaker Only’
If seeing multiple faces (and eyes) starting back at you overwhelms you, then you might benefit from changing your settings again. Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms have the “Speaker Only” option that allows you to see only the person who’s speaking at a time. This can reduce the sets of eyes looking at you and make the meeting feel more like a one-on-one interaction.
Another major source of Zoom anxiety is feeling like you can’t move because every move you make seems to be very noticeable on screen. So, another great tip on how to get over zoom anxiety is to move around mindfully.
It’s natural for people to stretch and move around during phone calls and in-person meetings, so why should it be an issue during an online meeting? It’s okay to carry the same mindset over to virtual calls. We encourage you to:
- Stretch your arms or neck if you’re tense
- Sip on some water or coffee
- Let your colleagues know you’ll be right back and grab a snack
Take Notes to Stay Present
Long meetings tend to seem boring and like a waste of time. Working from home or virtually can create even more opportunities for distraction. When your mind drifts, being surrounded by your things can make it tougher to refocus your attention. “Oh, there’s that pile of laundry I haven’t folded,” or “That’s my favorite picture from our last summer vacation.”
You might even catch yourself worrying over your reflection on the video call and wondering, “Is that really what I look like on camera?” Practicing mindfulness and remaining present can ease this anxiety by occupying your mind, preventing your worries from taking over, and helping you stay fully engaged, so you know what’s going on in the meeting.
Remember, you’re still working or doing schoolwork, so it’s not beneficial to your tasks or your mental health to become distracted on Zoom meetings. A great way to stay focused during Zoom meetings and ease anxiety is to take notes. Taking notes almost forces your mind to pay attention to what’s going on and minimizes the potential for distraction.
Take a Break When You Need It
Sitting in front of a screen all day can be exhausting. Video calls don’t just require engagement, but you’re also sitting in the same position and looking at a screen for a while, sometimes for hours at a time. This can strain your body and eyes in numerous ways.
It’s normal to need a few breaks, and you may not always have a chance to take them in between meetings. While moving on camera can make it seem as if everyone is staring at you, don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about taking care of your needs.
Think of it this way: if you needed to stretch, grab some water, or use the restroom in the office, then you’d probably just get up and do it without thinking twice. So next time you need to move around or take a break, excuse yourself from the meeting and go grab a snack or take a walk around the house.
Dress the Part
As the country transitioned to remote work, numerous stories about accidental unmuting during video calls and other embarrassing incidents surfaced. As you learn how to overcome Zoom meeting anxiety, don’t forget that you’re still working even if you’re at home.
This means you should dress for a day in the office even if your office at the moment is in your bedroom or living room. This helps your brain switch to “work” mode. You’ll also probably feel better prepared for work when you look the part than when you stay in your pajamas.
Change Up How You Communicate
Too much Zoom is definitely not a good thing, so, if you can, ask your co-workers and supervisor if you can change up the form of communication used for meetings. While you might not be able to get away from the occasional video chat, there are plenty of other ways you can communicate with your co-workers.
If you feel drained, let your supervisor know that frequent Zoom meetings are making it difficult for you to maintain a steady workflow. You can also suggest alternative ways of staying in touch and sharing ideas. If you need to speak to one or two other people, go old-school and have a phone call.
Need Help for Anxiety?
Love them or hate them, Zoom meetings have become part of everyday life for many people as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find it tough to manage your anxiety on Zoom, it may be worth reaching out to a professional for help.
BHOPB offers various Lake Worth mental health services for people with disorders like anxiety and depression. Our anxiety treatment center can help you discover what triggers your symptoms and the best way to manage your symptoms. Using the right tactics can pinpoint things you don’t realize you’re doing because of anxiety and help you live a happier and more fulfilling life.
- NeuroRegulation – Avoid Zoom Fatigue, Be Present and Learn