Alright, let’s play a little bit of a game, okay? I’m going to ask you, and you can just answer yourself, obviously, because I can’t hear you. Okay, do you say a bubble wrap, or air bubble packaging? Do you say dumpster, or mobile garbage bin? How about (and this is one of my favorites because it’s local to me) do you say Xerox or copier? How about Kleenex or tissue? Are you sensing the pattern here?
Here’s one that is so old, you might not even know do you say escalator or moving stairway? Who says moving stairway? I’ve never ever heard anyone say that. And this one goes back to 1963. Do you say thermos or vacuum flask? Okay, so what the heck are we talking about here? But wait, I got a couple more because this is just so much fun. Do you say frisbee or flying disc?
Alright, so I’m willing to bet that for most of these, you will say the brand name that you think of for the actual generic term. And that’s called genericization. So, I may not have pronounced that right. Genericization, sounds good enough to me anyway. It’s a thing, right? And what it is, is when the public associates the brand name of something with a generic class of product. And most recently, we are using the term Zoom quite a bit for video conferencing, for almost all video conferencing. In fact, some of these things have actually turned into verbs like, “We are going to Zoom tonight with our friends,” or, “Can use Xerox that for me?” kind of thing.
So, it’s really interesting how things change that way. But today, we’re going to zero in on Zoom, and most specifically, we’re going to talk about Zoom fatigue. Some people might even go so far as to call it Zoom burnout. I don’t know if I could go quite that far. I think that’s a little harsh. But I
definitely think Zoom fatigue is the thing. In fact, I know it is, because I’ve done a little research here and I want to share with you.
So, we are 1 year into the great COVID-19 pandemic. And at this point, the novelty of staying at home and sheltering in place has definitely worn off. You know, back in March of 2020, Zoom was not a household word yet. And it really had not been generic, genericized yet compared to now. There were only 10 million… 10 million users back then. Now, there’s currently over 300 million Zoom users, alright? People use Zoom (you know, I barely even have to tell you this) to celebrate birthdays and weddings and happy hours, game nights, even funerals, and of course, exercise class.
So, is Zoom fatigue a real thing? Well, in a nutshell, yes. Forbes defines Zoom burnout as a prolonged period of stress, leading to mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. And so, yeah, and the thing is, most of the effective remedies for any kind of prolonged stress are, include things like physical movement, right? And if you have back-to-back Zooms in your life all day long, really without a transition, you can definitely start to feel the effects of that.
So, there’s definitely something to say about sweat equity, aka getting in a workout to relieve physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. But here’s the thing, like a lot of our workouts… and by the way, I want to talk about sweat in just a minute. But a lot of our workouts, the most convenient way and safe and healthiest way right now to get them in is on, you guessed it, Zoom. So, it could be that Zoom is both a source of our stress and a source of our stress relief. It depends on how we approach it, right?
So, very quickly, I want to get off on a little tangent here when I talk about sweat equity. So, a workout does not have to make you sweat in order to be effective. Sweat is not a measurement of the effectiveness of a workout. And I know a lot of people think they don’t really get a great workout in unless they sweat. So, I will tell you, I, if it’s cold in the winter, and I’m working out in a gym, my gym that might be only 64 or 650 (and I know a lot of people who are doing their
Zoom classes in their garage and it might even be colder), we’re not sweating. We’re definitely warmer than when we started, but we’re not sweating. But it doesn’t mean we’re not getting the benefits of a great workout. And we’re definitely still getting the endorphins. So, I just want to let you know that, in order to get the physical outlet, the emotional outlet, and the mental outlet from a workout, you do not have to sweat, okay?
Alright, now let’s move back on to Zoom fatigue. That’s really what we’re here for today, but, you know, I get off on these tangents every now and then. So, video conferencing, aka Zoom, might be part of the problem, right, but it also might be part of the solution. So, we’ll come back to that later. But the lines… here’s the thing, the lines between home and work are blurred, right? We’re
seeing a big lack of respect for boundaries here. And we’re seeing it from a couple different ends. We’re seeing it from employers who think that… I mean, I can’t speak for all employers, but I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel that their employers think they’re on 24/7, and that they should be able to problem solve 24/7. And then I’ve also seen it from people who work for other people who don’t make an effort to create their own boundaries and log off for the day, so to speak, and just have a time for when they work in a time for when they don’t work. So, this is a very big challenge.
And if you’re more interested in this, I did a great episode. This was episode number 6, and it talks about building a stress-free work zone. And we spent a big part of this episode talking about creating work boundaries, both in our head and actually in our physical space. So, you can reference that if you think that that is something that you would definitely benefit from. And I think that any of us who are working from home can definitely benefit from that.
So, here’s another challenge. We work from home now, which means in one… on one hand, it’s wonderful that we don’t have to commute. On the other hand, it’s awful that we don’t get to commute, because our commute is our buffer between work and non-work, alright? So, that’s one of the things that can contribute to our Zoom fatigue, we don’t have that transition time. And I’ve often said that, because I’ve always worked from home, my transition is a flight of stairs, and that doesn’t give me very much time to do what I got to do, right, as far as change… it’s a mental change, right? You got to change your brain from one thing into another. And I’ll admit, I’m not the best at doing it. But it definitely needs to be done.
So, other things that contribute to Zoom fatigue, let’s talk about this. This is a really big one is being on camera all the time. I mean, it is game on. And it’s a little different, because you feel the need to show that you’re being attentive, okay, you do not want to appear on interested. You know, like, I’m a fidgeter, and so, people can see me when I’m on Zoom calls with my coaching clients, they can see me fidgeting a lot. I’m up and down. I’m sitting on my hands. I’m changing the angle. It’s just my nature, I fidget. But I would do that in person as well. So, but for some people, being on camera can add to their stress, you know?
Now, what about having back-to-back meetings? This is huge. I’ve had people tell me they’ve had 5 back-to-back meetings in a row, you know, in their big important meeting. So, what happens is they’re not moving, alright, they’re at their workspace, they’re not… and they’re not moving. So, perhaps if you were in corporate, maybe if you used to be in corporate, and even if you had a break between meetings, you might get up, use the bathroom, go to your break room, maybe at the… hangout at the coffee pot or the water cooler, and you would have some human interaction that was actually social and not work related.
And even for just a few minutes, it turns out… and if you listen to our episode on connectedness, that’s episode 27, you’ll understand why this is so important. Connection is important, and so is
a change important… excuse me, and so as a change of scenery. So, it’s very easy to be at your Zoom home workspace and not have a change of scenery and not get in any movement. And both of these things really matter. So, these… this lack of movement and lack of a change of scenery and lack of even small amounts of social interaction actually contribute to… they’re actually great on our physical, our mental in our emotional well-being.
So, let’s think about this for a minute. So, before the pandemic, working from home, was seen as a perk, right? Now, there are entire populations of people who don’t see it that way anymore. I think some people still do. I’m not going to… I don’t think we can categorize it. But they think there’s a growing number of people who just about had it with working from home. Because the reality is, they are stuck in sequential meetings. They do not have the ability to have many social connections, like I just mentioned. They don’t have face-to-face interaction with people. And this definitely leads to mental and emotional distress.
So, we know that work burnout is not new, right? It’s just that this digital version has its own characteristics. So, for example, we talked about the commute a minute ago, you can’t commute, you know, that’s one of the things that kind of buffers you from work to non-work, alright? Another issue is that we cannot easily read body language or facial expressions. So, if you’re looking at a 2-dimensional picture, you’re definitely going to miss some little subtle expressions, some subtle posture changes, which actually give us clues as to what’s going on, more than just the actual sound of their voice in the intonation. A lot of this is lost on video. So, right now, I’m actually changing position. Okay, that’s what I do.
Anyways. So… and there’s the ongoing stress from being watched, alright? Many people just feel that being washed is stressful. You know, maybe they don’t look the way they want to look. And I know that’s not supposed to bother… bother us, but the fact of the matter is, is that we’re human and we do care about what people think. And that’s not about to change, no matter how worthy we think we are. And so, I’m all about worthiness, and you know that, and I talk about that quite a bit. I don’t know if I’ve done the worthiness episode yet, but it will happen. But it doesn’t matter. We still care what people think. It’s part of human nature.
So, the stress, there’s another stress that actually contributes to Zoom fatigue, it’s having these video meetings, okay, that are less personal, but there’s also the stress of repeated meetings that are not productive. And then you just feel like, “Did I just waste like 3 hours, you know, meeting and not actually getting any closer to whatever our work goal is?” So, here’s a couple of things that we can do. We can build in breaks and hold our boundaries, which is going to take definitely some work. You know, just because we say we’re going to do it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, it’s going to take practice. And it may work for a day, it may backfire. It will definitely take practice, because it’s a new behavior, alright? We can’t always be quite available.
So, another thing that we can do, especially with building in breaks and boundaries is arrive early to our work, or our workout if it’s on Zoom that day, and just be there quietly. You don’t have to log on if you don’t want, or you can without your camera in your sound. And just take a minute to gather your focus and get present. So, it’s like here we are, and we’re starting. So, it’s kind of like the warm up before the warm up. Now, when I take people through a warm up on a Zoom workout, we kind of start, we do the quick welcome, we say what the equipment is, and then it’s like, “Now we’re going to focus. We’re right here now. And we’re starting with a warm up.” And it just lets people know, “Okay, we’re switching out of chatter mode, or whatever it was, and then moving on.”
And you can do this for yourself, but you just are going to have to work it in. And again, there’s going to have to be times… I love my Google Calendar, because it gives me a 10-minute break. So, I don’t schedule 60-minute meetings, I schedule 50-minute meetings. And I do say to people, “I need to be off because they have another meeting in 10 minutes, and I need to prepare for it,” simple as that. So, no, and you can just like, “We can schedule another meeting if we need to,” whatever. But… and it’s nice to let people know that at the beginning of a meeting if you have the ability to do that.
So, another thing is that we can do on constant Zoom is do not multi task, alright? So, don’t try to do other things. Don’t have other tabs open that you can actually see on your computer. So, you don’t want to see your email coming through. Turn off your notifications, right? If you’re coming to a Zoom workout, a lovely thing to do is get on early, you can keep the camera off and the mute on if you desire, and it’s a good time to just do some foam rolling or a little bit of mobility. Especially as we get older, we need to almost stretch before we stretch. We need to mobilize before we stretch, actually.
And it was so funny because I was cracking up last week not too long ago in 60 minutes, that most amazing gymnast, she’s number 1 in the world, Simone… I forget her last name, but she’s from Ohio. And at the ripe old age of 23, she calls herself an old lady. Did I talk about this in the last episode? I don’t know, I feel like I did. But it cracks me up because she says she has to actually stretch before she stretches with the rest of the people because she’s that old.
So, I’m cracking up, because here we are in our 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s (this is like the wheelhouse of people that… that I work with), we definitely need to mobilize before we stretch. We definitely need to get our blood pumping a little bit, our heart pumping before we stretch. But something that is a really nice kind of pre warm up to do is foam rolling. And sorry, I digress, but I just got off on that, because it’s such a great thing to do. So, and sometimes I will do that. People will see me doing it on camera before.
Okay, do a self-check-in when you’re getting ready for the day or for a meeting or for a Zoom workout. And what do I mean by that? So, just get present with yourself, however you’re going to do it. Maybe you’re sitting there, maybe you’re foam rolling. But ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” And then answer yourself, whatever your answer is, “Is this belief serving me? How would I feel if I didn’t believe this?” So, maybe you feel like frumpy that day, or maybe you feel like not great about your… your visual look, you know? But what if you said to yourself, “Is this serving me well? You know, and how would I feel if I let it go?” Just ask yourself those questions. Take a minute and get present. And then, you know, be present where you are and just be ready for the meeting or the workout.
So, if you’re working out online, here’s a great, great thing that you can do. And this is really interesting because we have these office hours with our Air Hug community training membership. And during office hours, I just invite people to come in and talk about whatever they want. And this past fall, people showed up, we had been doing Zoom for about 6 months, people started showing up and they’re like, “I came here to get inspiration and accountability,” and we’re like, “Oh, that’s great. Super.” And so, what happened was a few women right on in the chat and during our meeting were like, “I’ll be there for you if you’d be there for me. I will show up for you if you show up for me.”
And so, lo and behold, these people now, on the days that we are not live, they actually get together at a specified time, and they do the workout together because it’s a workout buddy. And even on Zoom, it works. They’re like, “I am not going to not show up, because so and so is
waiting for me, and I can’t let her down.” And you’d be surprised how it goes both ways. You know, you get a lot out of it and you give a lot back to it. It’s actually a really nice thing. So, I just wanted to mention that.
So, another thing is find the right match for you. If you’re looking for an online workout, you know, you just… it’s great if people are friendly, of course, you need to match personalities. But you also need to have someone who specializes in your age and stage of life, okay? So, if you have arthritis, you’re not going to go with Mr. hardcore, burpee in the snow kind of person, right? You know, just take it into consideration, because there could actually turn you off to working out altogether, and we don’t want that to happen. So, make sure you do your homework. Find the trainer that works for you.
And as you know, if you have any questions about the Air Hug, training, community membership, it is geared towards women. Sorry fellas, but it’s women only. And it is for women over 40. And we go from… you know, or heading into that perimenopause stage of life, alright, declining hormones, that kind of thing. And we train people all the way up into their 70s, 80s. So, we don’t have any 80-year-olds right now, but we do have people in their 70s. And guess what? They’re going to be 80 and they are getting stronger all the time. So, if that’s your niche, if that’s where you are and you’re interested, drop me a DM. I will put things in the… I’ll put my contact information actually in the show notes.
And remember, Zoom can be a big source of stress, but it can also be a big relief of stress. It’s all in how you approach it. And so, think about it that way. I should say video conferencing, but I’m already… I’ve already bought into the word Zoom. And so, it’s not likely to change anytime soon.
So, I would like to thank you for letting me chat in your ear today. As always, I am super, super appreciative of your listening and tuning in to the Air Hug community. Would you do me a big favor? Can I just tell you that Apple loves, loves, loves when people review podcasts? They love when people subscribe and when they review. And the more you share it on your social media, the more people will actually see it, and the more that Apple sees that, the more they will make us findable. And so, it is my goal to be findable so that we can improve the lives of others and have it boomerang back and also improve our life. Alright. Thank you very much. Remember to tune in every single Tuesday for a new episode. Bye.
Zoom is widely recognized as a household name for video conferencing.
Frequent ‘Zooming’ leads to a new kind of fatigue, call Zoom Fatigue, and is similar to mental burnout.
Being a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the novelty of using Zoom for work and socializing, and exercising has grown old.
For many of us, Zoom is now used for a large portion of human interaction. Birthdays, work, weddings, baby showers, funerals, and exercise programs.
Forbes defines zoom burnout as “prolonged periods of stress leading to mental emotional and physical exhaustion.” One effective remedy for this type of burnout is often physical movement. Well for most of us this is also happening via Zoom. Sweat equity is a hugely effective treatment for stress relief and emotional exhaustion. But when the class is on Zoom it can be tricky. (But not impossible)
Why is Video conferencing so stressful? For many people the thought of being on camera is daunting. Many people feel the need to show that they are attentive. This creates extra stress.
Back-to-back meetings are also a recipe for stress. It’s like a pressure cooker without a steam valve.
We all need mental breaks throughout the day. Continuous Zoom meetings take away the opportunity to visit a break room even briefly throughout the day. Getting up and leaving our desk/ office also gets our extremities moving. These little movements and brain breaks are necessary.
A few options for minimizing Zoom Fatigue and burnout include building in breaks that include moving and getting off Zoom communication. Even a quick phone call to a significant other or friend. (For more on the benefits of staying connected, listen to episode #27) Get up and move, get a change of scenery and give your brain a break.
Before the Pandemic working from home was seen as more of a perk. Now it is seen as less of a perk. But it can still be beneficial and helpful in preventing the spread of disease at least until we have herd immunity.
Work burnout is not new. But this digital version known as Zoom Burnout has unique characteristics.
Here are a few tips. For online workouts, get an accountability partner. (S)he will show up for you and you will show up for her. This is a proven effective accountability strategy.
Zoom can be both a source of stress and also a relief from stress.
Thank you for tuning and remember to check back every Tuesday for a new episode.
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and contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Join me for a virtual coffee chat
on our Facebook group: The Air Hug Community
For more information on our online workouts: The Air Hug Training online membership