If you’d mentioned back in 2019 that you had Zoom anxiety, you may have been met with some strange glances.
The advent of Zoom and video calls struck back in March, when our entire lives seemed to centre around the screen. Handling work meetings via video call can be a trojan effort for many people and be downright draining at times. No wonder we are feeling a bit on edge.
So why does Zoom make us feel anxious?
For those who suffer from social anxiety, Zoom calls can amplify these feelings monumentally.
There is a lot to contend with on these calls. A gaggle of voices, a stream of colleagues videos, the risk of glitches and lags. Zoom provides so much more additional stimulation than your average meeting and can be a lot to process.
All eyes on you – Those who feel socially anxious may be uncomfortable drawing attention to themselves on the screen as it can feel quite vulnerable. You may have a set of 20 eyes on you at any one time which can be overwhelming.
Body language and cues are missing – They say that 90% of our communication comes from body language. As such, we have to work harder to pick up on social cues via Zoom. This increases our cognitive load hugely. Throw in some connection problems and you’ve got a recipe for a stunted conversation.
Facing your own face – In standard conversations, typically your attention is focused entirely on the person speaking. But Zoom has made us acutely aware of our own appearance during work calls, as our own faces are mirrored back to us. It’s slightly jarring to see yourself as others see you throughout a call. This increased self awareness can be distracting and affect your focus.
How to manage Zoom anxiety
Turn off your camera – There is no harm in removing the distraction of your own face. It’s possible to minimise your camera view so that it is out of your eye line. This will allow you to better concentrate on what is being discussed.
Rehearse what you’re going to say – If you are feeling nervous about presenting on Zoom, try running through what you plan to say, ahead of time. Recording yourself on your phone or laptop can also help you to prepare and help you feel more comfortable.
Exposure therapy – Sometimes it pays to just do it. Get comfortable, make a cup of tea in your favourite mug and just dial in. The more often you jump into these calls, the less intimidating they will become. The move to Zoom and video meetings has been a major adjustment in these changing times. Understanding why you may be feeling overwhelmed will help you manage feelings as they surface.
Getting used to a new technology will always be challenging but this year has taught us that we can adapt to anything. You can conquer Zoom!
If you would like professional support with anything you are going through turn2me provides free, confidential online supports for young people and adults in the Republic of Ireland.
- Peer support – A free and safe space where you can find and give support by connecting with other people who have been through similar experiences.
- Group support -Facilitated by a mental health professional, support groups are a safe space to connect with others and share solutions and coping strategies on a variety of mental health topics.
- Counselling – Support for whatever you are going through, this is a safe space to talk with a professional counsellor to help you understand your feelings and work together to develop the tools you need to get through tough times.