This article was written by guest contributor Luke Smith.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, video conferences have become the norm for businesses across the globe. As of March 2021, the Zoom platform had over 300 million daily meeting participants. Things might be returning to normal slowly, but it’s clear that video conferencing is here to stay for businesses, remote workers, and even freelancers.
Unfortunately, it’s also become a new work stressor.
Remote work anxiety is a very real thing, and it’s been on the rise over the last year. While it’s easy to assume that working from home is less stressful, it can actually add more pressure to an employee than working in a traditional office setting. Video conference anxiety is only a small part of that.
Let’s take a closer look at why remote work and stress can go hand-in-hand, and what you can do to alleviate the anxiety that stems from it – as well as the worries behind video conferencing.
Why Remote Work Anxiety is Serious
How could working from home possibly cause someone to be anxious? To fully understand that, you have to break down the specific challenges that come from remote work. Some of those include:
- Striking a healthy work-life balance
- Dealing with distractions
Then, of course, you have the “little” issues that could come up every day, like problems with technology. Unexpected stressors like these can make things even worse and can trigger deeper mental health issues, including anxiety. In fact, some of the problems associated with remote work, including isolation and extra pressure, can contribute to the formation of different anxiety disorders like:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Separation anxiety
Whether you feel overwhelmed because your family/roommates are distracting, your schedule is thrown off, or you just miss the daily interaction with your co-workers, working from home isn’t the ideal solution for everyone at first. It takes dedication and a willingness to adapt. Even then, anxieties can linger – especially over certain aspects that come with remote work, like video conferencing.
The Struggle With Video Conference Anxiety
Video conferencing is nothing new. MegaMeeting has been around since 2003. But, online meetings have seen a huge increase since December 2019. Needless to say, it’s “new” to a lot of people. As a result, the term “Zoom anxiety” is new, too. But, it’s a very real problem for people who dread getting on a video conference call with others.
So what causes video conference anxiety, and why is it happening so often?
Research suggests that when you’re taking part in video conferences, your brain is carrying a heavier cognitive load. You have to attempt to read the nonverbal cues of others on the call while increasing your amount of eye contact. Other possible culprits include:
- Anxiety caused by seeing your own face on the screen
- Feeling “trapped”
- Feeling watched too closely by everyone else
- Taking in more social cues
Sitting on video conferencing calls all day can also cause you to become more self-conscious about the way you look on screen. This type of anxiety can manifest itself in different ways. It can cause frustration and forgetfulness (like stage fright). But, it can also contribute to negative physical symptoms, like an increased heart rate and nausea.
How to Combat Remote Work and Stress
Working remotely has become the norm for so many people, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. It’s estimated that 22% of the American workforce will work remotely by 2025. If you’re someone who is experiencing remote work anxiety and/or video conference anxiety, you’re not alone. But, there are things you can do to fight back against it.
Putting these strategies in place can help to ease your stress and make you more comfortable in a remote environment and on screen.
To start, make sure you have a dedicated office space. You don’t necessarily need to clear out an entire room, but you should have a space specifically meant for work, and nothing else. When you’re in that space, make sure your family or roommates know you’re working, and can’t be distracted.
Don’t be afraid to change up your space if you’re feeling uninspired or unproductive. Make sure your space is decluttered and clean to give you a clean slate. From there, add things that inspire you, from plants to personal items, to things that bring you comfort. Make your office your own, and let your personality come through.
It’s important to establish a routine. While working from home makes it tempting to wake up late and work strange hours, this can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance, damage your productivity, and cause extra stress. Stick to a daily schedule and have set working hours. You’ll be able to enjoy more personal time when you do.
Finally, take breaks and practice self-care. If you’re feeling anxious about working remotely or video conferencing, take better care of yourself. Do something every day specifically for you, whether it’s exercising, journaling, or taking a long bath. Self-care is a wonderful way to reduce stress. Depending on what you do, it can also boost your self-confidence and ease your worries over things you can’t control.
Just because remote work and video conferencing are here to stay, your anxiety doesn’t have to. Keep these ideas in mind to develop a stronger grasp on the cause(s) of your anxiety, and how you can cope as you continue to work from home.
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Powered by WebRTC, Node.js, React, and GraphQL, it is a cutting-edge platform that is fun and easy to use for users and developers alike.