1. Do you feel exhausted at the day end even though you are in the comfort of your home? And you haven’t exerted yourself much.
2. Do your eyes feel heavy and tired? In spite of a good night’s sleep?
3. Do feel your back and shoulder muscles strained?
4. Do you feel that you are averse to the next video call? Be it work or social?
5. Do you wish you did not have to switch the video button of the next video conferencing call?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to three or more questions. You could be experiencing Video Conferencing fatigue, moving towards a Burnout; in spite of being in the comfort of your home. It is perhaps the high frequency or duration or perhaps both of video calls that you are indulging into.
You are not alone in the Video Conferencing Fatigue Syndrome. Research shows that the global average in the pandemic of Video Conferencing usage services rose from 10 million users daily in December 2019 to more than 200 million in March!
Video Conferencing software is the single most used universal tool of business communication In Indian mythology, we would call it the Bhramastra (In ancient Indian history, these were the weapons of God Brahma that always gave power to humans and made them victorious in times of war). Video Conferencing has its benefits of being part of the business continuity plans, and yet has the down side of the Humanness Continuity Plans if over-used.
Reasons for Video Conferencing Fatigue
1. Performance pressure on screen
Our need to look good and please our other video conferencing co-partners on screen is a new feeling. We are not conversant with. To see your own self whilst talkingto a room full of people is a sense of self- awareness we have not tuned into. Along with this we are reading into the non-verbal and verbal clues of our associates and friends. Simultaneously dealing with multiple eyes staring at you. We are new to this kind of social anxiety. This anxiety we are getting acclimatized to whilst the damage is subliminally building up.
2. Tech Anxiety
Apart from the excessive notification and social media usage that releases dopamine in our body (True even before the pandemic). This makes our brain feel, like it is in the emergency room and not in your room in your own home. The neuro-biological impact adds to the excessive video conferencing usage. If the technology tends to lag more than 1.2 seconds it makes us anxious, unheard, not understood and less friendly. We may tend to perceive other people negatively especially because of multiple focused gazes on us beyond three seconds. Adding to the negative thoughts we live with and their impact.
3. Culture of Being Always ON
The Video Conferencing meetings tend to be planned closely planned with each other, not allowing us to relax and tune off. Before we can truly tune in. Work Life Boundaries are more blurred than they ever were in the new normal.
Some of us join video conferencing with family and friends out of compulsion and tend to multitask instead of building human connect (a relaxation time), with work making the experience of socializing like work.
4. The Dissonance of Social Connectivity
The basic human need is to be understood and have an experience of connectedness. This releases Oxytocin (The chemical of trust in relationships, useful in building teams). In this unique phenomena of the pandemic, we are connected at the mind (level)/ intellectually but not at level of the body. This causes dissonance like two stones thrown from a cliff into the water, a few seconds apart. They arrive on the same spot but the waves in the water are not in resonance.
5. The Complexity of All in One
Gallup survey explained in their well-being index of March and April 2020, a unique experience of self-complexity. Where emotional experience of enjoyment, worry, stress converts to one platform a screen and digital device. By decreasing enjoyment curve and increasing the worry and stress curve.
Gianpiero Petriglieri, an Associate Professor at INSEAD who explores Sustainable Learning and Development at the Workplace compared the situation to “Imagine you go to a bar, and at the same bar you talk to your professors, meet your parents, you date someone. Isn’t that weird? Most of our social roles that happen in different places are. But now the context has collapsed.”
6. Body Ergonomics in Work From Home
There is little doubt that our body postures are poorly aligned for these long working hours from home. Pain in the shoulders, arms, neck and back add to the exhaustion that the body experiences. Along-with the eye strains and the redness caused on account of the light of a digital device.
How to energize yourself in these Video Conferencing times
1. Ultradian and Circadian Rhythm
Human body works in ultradian and circadian rhythms. Being aware and using this is important to manage energy levels in current context. This cycle is of 90 minutes. It is recommended that we work in 90 minute cycles. Post it is important to take a 20 minute break from all digital devices and social media. Stretch your body in this time, whilst breathing in and breathing out with a sound. This will release Serotonin that will make you happy and relaxed, hydrate yourself well with fluids.
2. Priority calls only
Attend only those calls where you are needed and your contribution is valuable. Limit the number of calls in a day and week.
3. Camera On. Camera Off
Occasionally turn of the camera too and notice how that feels to you. If you like the social connectedness, feel free to keep it on. Yet, reduce the pressure of it.
4. Share your feelings instead of bottling up
Bottled up experiences, drain your personal energy leading to feeling of fatigue.Share how you feel with family and friends whenever needed. Reaching out to people you love is act of self-love.
5. The focus muscle
Build your focus and concentration like a muscle, it enhances energy. No multiple chat and e-folders open during the calls.Avoid using Mobile/Tablet and laptop at the same time or multi-tasking house work while on call.
6. Strengthen your muscles
Back and Neck strengthening is a must before you sleep. Also remember to relax the eyes, by staring at a point at a distance or gazing at a plant.
7. Time to self-reflect
Ritualise a time for self-reflection and strategic thinking in the day. We wish you a year of wellness and energy, this 2020.
The Author is Dr. Kanan Khatau Chikhal, a doctor of Homeopathic Medicine and Psychology. Founder of LifeCures Wellness Clinic, has helped more than 10,000 individuals to build happiness. She is also a Co-founder at Whole Brain Consulting where she enhances Performance and Productivity as an Executive coach. She is the first woman member of the Council of Realty, Infrastructure, Services and Promotion (C.R.I.S.P) – where she endorses sustainable and holistic wellness for organizations.