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Anxiety: We still can’t escape video calls, but there are ways to improve them



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So. A lot of. Zooms.

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This story is part of a series about life a year after the pandemic. Make sure to read part one: A year after the pandemic, anxiety is still a major problem We also have stories about it why COVID has changed our habits forever and how the pandemic gives health workers the opportunity to shine on social media


Video chat and conferencing services such as Zoom have been on the rise in the past year due to lockdowns and home working mandates during pandemicIt̵

7;s been a year since “You stand still”, “You look like you were petrified” and “Is that a cat?” But for many people, Zoom anxiety remains very real.

While little research has been done on Zoom anxiety, a November 2020 survey of 2,000 home workers found it stems from a variety of sources: technical and audio problems you can’t solve; not being able to read people’s body language; feel like you’re not being listened to; without time to take a phone call to prepare your appearance; worry about an unprofessional background; and be talked about. (To be clear, in this story I’m using Zoom as a stand-in for all video chat platforms, because it’s essentially became a verb for video calls in 2020

Despite the roll-out of vaccines and talks of reopening in some areas, many companies will not ensure that employees return to the office full-time for the foreseeable future, so it is likely that video conferencing will remain here. But if you suffer from anxiety when using these on-camera tools, hope is not lost. We have some best practices to combat Zoom anxiety and make your meetings run smoother.

Read more: How to use Zoom Escaper, a sneaky tool for sabotaging your video calls

What You Can Do To Fight Zoom Anxiety

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Angela Lang / CNET

Even if video chat platforms stay here as part of our daily lives, the concern about these calls doesn’t have to go with them. Here are a few things you can do right now to improve the situation and the toll on your mental health:

Turn off self-view. Once you’ve signed into a call and make sure you’re on the screen, right-click on your video to bring up the menu. Choose Hide myself. You still appear to others, but you don’t have to stare at yourself all the time.

This can have a strong positive psychological effect. “For me, the self-image is the most disturbing,” said Jeremy Bailenson, founder and director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, who recently published a study on Zoom Fatigue“Never before have people stared at themselves for so long a day. This creates additional stress, both consciously – people worry about their appearance, grooming, etc. – and unconsciously, as psychological research has shown that even when people are not active their reflection, a mirror in their field of vision, causes them to increase their self-evaluation. ”

Invest in a camera shield (or an easy-to-remove tape). Even if you accidentally turn on your video, as long as the camera is physically blocked, no one can actually see you until you delete it.

Re-evaluate the need for video during your calls. If you’re hosting a meeting, consider whether video is required to turn on, or if, even better, it could be a phone call so you can get up and walk around, Bailenson said.


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Talk to your manager or the moderator. If you are not the host of most of your video calls, but a participant, consider raising the issue with your co-workers, your manager, or whoever the person in charge. You may want to let them know that since you are not in a senior position, you don’t want to talk on top of someone, but still want to participate. You might suggest having an agenda, or someone to facilitate the meeting and make sure everyone has a chance to speak, said Libby Sander, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, who studies psychological study. effects of working from home.

Feel free to say no to social contacts on Zoom. We are way past the days when virtual happy hours were all the rage. If you’re burned out by video calls, you don’t have to go to that Zoom book club meeting or hangout. Be open about your feelings and needs, and hopefully your friends should understand, because who hasn’t felt this way this year?

Give yourself a break. If you have been stressed or worried about video calls, know that you are far from alone. Most people are concerned on some level about their dog’s barking during an important conversation, Wi-Fi going down, or the way they look at the camera. At this point, people tend to have a reasonable understanding of the difficulties involved in working from home and in this way invite your colleagues to your personal space.

For more information, check out the first story in this series, about the real impact of Zoom anxiety on mental health and well-beingPlus, here are ours tips for using Zoom like a pro, and the best equipment for online meetingsIf all else fails, you can try to use Zoom Escaper to get out of your video meetings.


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