The pandemic has thrown people around the world into disarray. Lockdowns, social distancing, the chaotic transition towards online operations have all affected almost every person on the planet.
One of the most drastic changes that have taken place is the change in human interaction. Now, most communication takes place online, through texts, emails, and video conferences.
Without a doubt, this change has also made social anxiety levels skyrocket. If you are struggling with video calls and are looking for ways to deal with Zoom anxiety, look no further – this is the article for you!
Let’s get straight into it.
What is Zoom anxiety?
Zoom is one of the most popular platforms for video conferences. Although it has definitely made communication and connection much easier and convenient throughout the world, not everyone has adapted to the transition easily.
‘Zoom anxiety’ is loosely defined as the feeling of panic when asked to attend a video call. It’s a natural reaction to anything we are unfamiliar with, so it’s not all that unexpected.
Whether in a work setting, or an educational one, many people have felt the pressure to be more social through video calls. As much as we try to replace face-to-face interaction with Zoom (or whichever other platform), it can still seem a bit unnatural.
Therefore, there is a lot of stress surrounding these calls, leading to increased anxiety or burning out. But why is that the case?
Why is it so stressful?
There are several reasons why we feel the way we do during video calls. The best way to fight the so-called ‘Zoom anxiety’ is to understand where it is coming from.
Your Personal Space
The most obvious reason is that it is all new and we need time to adapt. We are not used to following lectures or attending work meetings from our bedroom.
It can feel like a very real invasion of our personal space. We suddenly feel more aware of everything that is going on around us.
Not to mention that there are so many potential embarrassing events going on at home! How many times have you asked yourself one of the following questions during a video call?
- Is my microphone muted?
- Did I close the door properly?
- What if someone walks in and embarrasses me completely?
- Is the space behind me tidy enough?
- Oh no, did they really all hear that?
We bet you had a few flashbacks as you were going through these. It’s understandable why having business or school-related conversations from the comfort of your home can be stressful.
You Need More Focus
Secondly, research suggests that video calls require more focus and attention than face-to-face conversations. People need more energy to read through and process facial expressions, voice tone, and body language.
Once again, we can tie this to our unfamiliarity with the entire process. It would take years for all of us to adapt completely to these changes in communication.
You Want to Be Interesting
Suppose you are holding a lecture or giving a work presentation. In that case, you may feel the need to be more witty and interesting to keep the audience’s attention.
Naturally, focusing on and attempting to please more than a few people at a time takes up more energy. You feel like you have to be the master entertainer while at the same time trying to perform well at your job.
You Want to Look Good
There may also be the unspoken pressure to appear “photogenic” on camera, as so many people may be staring directly at your face.
It’s easy to become too self-aware and worry if your sleepy morning hair is still going strong at 1 PM.
Now that we have covered the reasons behind our anxiety – let’s dive into the solutions.
How to feel more confident in Zoom meetings?
Unfortunately, anxiety is not a good enough reason to skip out meetings – particularly in a professional setting. At this point, you may be wondering what exactly we can do to make Zoom meetings less anxiety-inducing? Here are four ways to feel more confident in Zoom meetings.
Method 1: Schedule Breaks
During the past year, screen time has reached a new high. People are using their technological gadgets now more than ever.
Because of this, it is perfectly natural to feel exhausted and burnt out.
Taking time away from your screen is not only effective in preventing, or at least lessening, Zoom anxiety. It is also crucial for a healthy mind and body.
The key is to revise your schedule and find opportunities for breaks. Are there any areas where you can reduce screen time?
Try to avoid booking appointments one after the other or grinding for hours on end. Allow yourself time to breathe, stretch, take a walk and eat.
When you take regular breaks, your brain will be more refreshed, and tackling the next call will be less anxiety-provoking.
Method 2: Get Adequate Training
The chaotic transition to online video calls has not given everyone an equal opportunity to adjust to new software. You may likely feel as if you cannot operate the platform properly.
In this case, there is no issue in asking for help. Like you, many other people are learning as well.
Here is a great video that will show you everything you need to know to feel well prepared:
You can also contact Zoom representatives to explain the workings to you. The more comfortable you are with using the software, the more confident you are likely to be.
Once you are well-versed in Zoom, you will have no reason to worry – you know your stuff, time to put it into practice!
Method 3: Prep & Practice
There are few things more terrifying than being underprepared for an important meeting.
The key is to not over-prepare, nor under-prepare. Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself adequately.
- Research issues beforehand so you know what the meeting will be about.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you look good in – an outfit that makes you feel good can shoot up your confidence like nothing else.
- Arrive early – the last thing you want is to be late. If you’re early, practice breathing exercises to calm yourself, and greet people as they join.
If you are the one presenting, then the only thing you can do to reduce your anxiety is practice. You can take public speaking courses or do mock presentations for family or friends to get the hang of it.
View every presentation opportunity as a chance to learn. This attitude will help you improve your confidence over time.
Method 4: Trust Yourself
Trusting yourself may be the most challenging thing to do, especially when your anxiety sows seeds of self-doubt into your mind.
As important as it is to prepare and practice as much as you can, it is equally essential to trust yourself and your abilities.
Here a couple of ways you can feel more comfortable:
- Don’t try to be someone you are not. Faking a personality can only heighten your anxiety as you will add the stress of breaking character.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t be too harsh on yourself when you do something embarrassing or make a mistake. It happens. Accept it and smile the stress away.
- Do some introspection. Meditate, write out your thoughts. Find out what your biggest worries are and try to talk them over with yourself. You may be surprised at how helpful that can be!
Bonus Tip: What to Do When Anxiety Makes You Freeze
We’ve all been there – someone asks a difficult question that we can’t answer immediately, and we freeze. Anxious thoughts start swirling around our heads.
- I should be able to answer this! Oh my God, this is so embarrassing.
- How could I have not seen this coming?
- I should just say something – anything! But what if it is completely wrong?
Drops of sweat start rolling down our forehead. We start smiling uncomfortably and start worrying about what might be the longest awkward silence of all time.
In situations like these, know that it is perfectly alright to say you are not sure of a certain answer. Assure them that you will research further and contact the audience eventually.
It’s as simple as that. Take a step back, say that you don’t know, but you will look into it. It shows that you are humble and willing to work hard.
Also, keep in mind that your anxiety does not define you. Give yourself the freedom to feel anxious. Once you accept those feelings, it will be easier to attempt to overcome them.
As we said, it is of prime importance that you accept that being anxious or nervous is by no means the end of the world or your career.
You are not alone in this situation! There are many others, even your colleagues (or perhaps, your boss!), who feel equally – if not more – anxious to attend Zoom meetings, too.
Everyone is learning slowly but steadily – the key is to go at your own pace and give yourself time to adjust and learn. With practice, preparation, and a positive mindset, you will eventually begin to feel more comfortable in video conferences and finally beat your Zoom anxiety.