The way we work and interact with each other has changed, perhaps for the long term. For some it’s great not to have to commute to the office everyday. I have been enjoying working in the spare room in my jogging bottoms and pink fluffy slippers! Especially now it’s so cold outside. But the thought of a video meeting often makes us feel anxious. So how do we combat zoom anxiety?
Why does Zoom make us anxious?
Video conferencing tools are great for keeping us connected when we can’t meet in person, and that’s a wonderful thing. But it does leave a lot of us feeling anxious and overwhelmed for several reasons.
I spoke to Laila Datoo from A Life More Mindful who explains: “Often we allow the negative chatter of our mind to take over – the negative internal chatter is often referred to as the monkey mind / chimp or as I like to call my monkey mind, Mavis!!! We often overthink what we are going to say and start to worry about what people will think – am I going to sound silly? Did I talk too fast?“
It’s also harder to read non verbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice over video. So a lot more concentration is required trying to interpret these correctly and this can be mentally draining, especially when you have to focus on many different people over a small gallery view.
Then there is the worry about the technology. Do I have the correct login details? Which video conferencing platform is this meeting on? Will the internet connection cut out again?
And lets not forget the feeling of how do I look on camera? We have to look at ourselves on the screen too…Am I presentable? Is that what I look like today? Am I using the right body language?
How can we calm the chatter?
Laila explains that we allow the chatter to get louder and louder and get caught up in those thoughts rather than focusing on the facts and the present moment. So here are some tips to cut through the noise, calm our minds and make Zoom calls easier:
- Before you log in take 3 deep breaths in and out through the nose to ground yourself into the present moment
- Try FOF BOC – Feet On Floor – Back On Chair – the act of connecting with the seat and the floor brings us back to the now when we are too much in our heads
- Be present and focused on the camera by closing or turning off any other distractions like other windows on the laptop/ phone
- If you feel really nervous, focus your gaze on the camera rather than yourself or the other people/person and imagine you are looking at someone who is lovely, loves and supports you and is cheering you on
- Switch your camera off if someone is presenting or it’s not necessary to be seen by the group. This will make you feel more relaxed and you can just concentrate on listening
- And smile! Research shows that when we smile, we produce endorphins which reduce stress as they reduce the production of the stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol. Smiling also releases chemical messages into our nervous system that communicate with our brain to let us know we’re ‘happy’
- Try and schedule regular breaks between meetings so that they are not all back to back. Take a break from your screen to relax and recharge. I like to go for a walk or do some exercise to clear my mind
- Remember that something are beyond our control. Sometimes the internet will have bad connection and you will encounter technical difficulties – especially now we are all working from home
- Talk to your colleagues, chances are a lot of them feel the same way you do. Knowing your not alone and that others share the same worries really does make a difference
Simple tips to look professional on Zoom
If you are worried about how you look on camera there are some simple steps you can take to look and feel more professional on your video calls:
Good lighting from the front makes a huge difference, it lights you evenly and instantly brightens your face. And it’s much easier to achieve than you might think. Make use of a natural light source and position yourself so that you are facing a window. If you don’t have a good source of natural light and spend a lot of time on zoom consider investing in a ring light to pop in front of you, there are some great budget options on amazon for these.
Avoid side lighting unless you are going for that sinister look. And don’t sit with your back to a window otherwise the camera will only pick up your silhouette!
A camera looking up the nostrils isn’t flattering for anybody – no matter how lovely and perfectly formed your nostrils are! Get the camera up to eye level. I often prop mine on a pile of books until I get the right level and angle. It makes the world of difference and also means you can look straight at the camera and make eye contact.
Sit arms length away from the screen. The camera in your laptop is extremely wide angle, so too close and it can distort your features.
Declutter the background area that will be in shot. I have been know to push the clutter to the sides quickly before a call! A simple neat background is fine and means that it’s to distracting people from you, and what you have to say.
If you’re like me and like to be cosy at home in gym clothes and fluffy slippers just keep a nice top or jumper nearby that you can pop on for your calls. Keeping you video presentable from the waist up!
But most importantly go with what makes you feel confident. If I need an extra confidence boost I ditch my gym gear and fluffy slippers, do my make up and pop on something that makes me feel fab and ready to face the world. For more relaxed meetings I just pop on that jumper, a bit of mascara and run a brush through my hair. I find that when I feel good this translates to feeling more relaxed and confident in front of the camera.
If you have any tips that help you combat Zoom anxiety I would love to hear them! Drop them in the comments below.
Find out more about Sarah Wills Photography here!