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How to Combat Zoom Fatigue with Mindfulness

The science behind why virtual meeting overload is hard for our brains and a few mindfulness practices to bring more productivity and peace into your day.

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It’s safe to say that many businesses, including workplace wellness providers like Work From Om®, are grateful for the amazing technology that has enabled them to continue providing service to customers through this pandemic.

That being said, Zoom fatigue is very real and the virtual meeting trend is not slowing down with Zoom reporting 300 million daily meeting participants and rising. 

Phew. 

So, what’s the science behind what we’re all feeling? Studies say that engaging with people virtually is extremely difficult for our brains for a few reasons:

  • The dozens of non-verbal cues we’re used to receiving in person don’t translate so we have to intensely focus on people’s words 
  • Multi-person (gallery) views make it even worse, tasking the brain to decipher so many non-verbal cues at once that basically nothing gets through 
  • This creates an environment where the participants must split their attention and effectively begin multitasking, which is known to decrease productivity, increase stress and negatively impact memory 
  • This combination of factors leaves participants completely exhausted and feeling like they didn’t accomplish much at all 

Since it doesn’t look like Zoom meetings are going anywhere anytime soon, we pulled together a few well-being tips to help make your meetings more productive and mindful: 

1. Begin each meeting with meditation or gratitude. 

By kicking off your meetings with a moment of mindfulness, it sets the tone for the participants (and their brains!) and gives everyone a chance to get centered. This can look like simply taking 2 minutes of silence, or if someone is comfortable leading a meditation for the group then that’s great too! There are also tons of short meditations available online; our favorites are from our friends at The Running River Collective, many of them led by our beloved teacher Quazzy

If meditation doesn’t feel right then your team could kick off with a simple gratitude practice. This looks like taking turns to share thanks for something someone else did, or simply going around and sharing good news with the team. 

2. Before signing in, minimize any distractions. 

Since the simple act of participating in a Zoom meeting already creates the need to multitask, let’s not add fuel to the fire, okay? Try to set up in a quiet area, put your phone away and be sure to close out all of your other tabs. Our brains are not designed to multitask, and when we do, we produce cortisol, the stress hormone, which leads to anxiety and then even more stress. It’s a nasty cycle. Do everything you can to help focus your brain, and focus on the meeting at hand. 

3. Set a personal intention to be accountable. 

We owe it to ourselves and to our colleagues to be present at work and respect each other’s time and energy. So, before heading into your Zoom meeting, take a moment to set an intention to give it your full attention. Your team deserves your focus and accountability to be a present, engaged employee–plus you’ll get more out of the meeting too. 

4. When possible, phone it in.

Sometimes (often times?) a video call isn’t really necessary. If you can, host meetings over the phone instead of Zoom. This eliminates the visual distractions that our brains can’t quite figure out and allows participants to completely focus on listening and participating in the conversation. 

Plus, then you don’t have to put away that laundry. 

We use these mindfulness strategies at our own important meetings, and have noticed a significant increase in employee engagement and can get through difficult topics more easily. Give these workplace wellness tips a try, and help your team feel accomplished and energized—they deserve it. 

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