Having access to virtual meetings means we (and our children) can work from home, we can give and receive support, and we can see the faces of our loved ones when we chat. However, this online presence is unprecedented. This two-dimensional relationship impacts our ability to fully connect non-verbally, build rapport and trust. This can leave us feeling the connection is less than… and we can feel exhausted by the psychological challenges this brings. Instead of the reciprocal back and forth of eye contact and verbal and non-verbal communication of face-to-face interactions, we tend to feel we need to engage visually constantly to show interest and attention. We are often more aware of, and distracted by, interruptions (in our environment and online, e.g. email) and technological challenges can cause additional stress. Additionally, we stress our bodies more by sitting in the same position for hours on end.
To help manage these challenges try to reduce the temptation to multitask during virtual meetings. Multitasking adds more cognitive load, stress, and increases mistakes.
Don’t be too critical of your online image. It’s just one more pressure. For example, worrying about your grey hairs is not helpful, especially when you consider it unlikely anyone else on the call is focusing on your grey hair.
Try to schedule a few minutes of downtime between sessions. This can give your eyes, mind and body a break and can go a long way. Consider setting a timer to prompt your to stand and walk around regularly.
Set firm boundaries prior to a session. Let the other participants know that the meeting will end on time. Try to make sure other distractions are taken care of before the meeting (e.g., childcare). This will allow you to relax and not carry additional stress into the meeting.
Often the fatigue we feel is not so much physical but mental. Practice self-care, use relaxation and mindfulness practices outside of work / school hours to help you reinvigorate your brain and body.