Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by the new virtual social pressures of lockdown. You are not alone! I am and I was relieved to discover ‘Zoom/virtual socialising fatigue’ is a real thing that is affecting our mental health. It seems we are suddenly expected to join online quizzes, hangouts, video meetings, online workouts with family, friends and work colleagues because we are lockdown at home. I found myself on a 2 hour quiz on a Monday night when all I wanted to do was chill out reading. I have always needed my own space.
With the new normal created by the pandemic, set to be here for a while, the experts are advising us of the need to create boundaries. We need to ensure we put strategies in place to help protect our mental health by managing the level of virtual socialising. Although the media is right – it is good to talk and stay connected – it is also good to know when to say no and take time for yourself.
Virtual Socialising is Exhausting
It is weird but true that video calls can be more exhausting than socialising in the same room. You have the added complication of the delay in the signals which upsets the natural rhythm of communication. And as you are in different rooms the non verbal cues are not as easy to read, you have to pay more attention to relate to the others on the call. It is less initiative which causes more stress, not to mention the pressure of seeing yourself reflected back on the screen. It feels like you are on stage and having to perform making you feel self conscious.
We Need Variety and Space
As humans we are wired to need variety. This means we are experiencing added pressure when all aspects of our lives in lockdown merged into more screen video time calls for work, family, friends, wellbeing etc. It can get too intense. The added complexity is that you are playing out all the roles in your life in one space, which can make you feel confined. It is natural to need variety and time alone. Most of us are used to having time alone traveling or when the house is empty. This is healthy and it is important to recognise our own needs for variety and space.
You Feel Under Pressure
Social media is full of adverts from supermarkets and posts of virtual House Parties, cooking and eating virtual family dinners and quizzes. There is an underlying pressure to join in and show a smiling face. The best thing is to be honest if you feel too exhausted or not in the mood share how you feel and only join in when it feels right.
Listen To What You Need
With all the anxiety around the new normal, go easy on yourself and if you feel like switching off and watching TV be kind to yourself and do it. This is the time to put your mental health first and turning off the camera on Zoom and limiting screen time is good for your wellbeing. Experts agree it is good to spend some time connecting with people but avoid screen fatigue. Intersperse video screen time with a bit of exercise, a walk, reading a book or sitting in the garden. The key is to create boundaries which stop you getting overwhelmed by screens. Maybe write a letter or send a card to someone instead of another video call. That’s what my daughter and her friends did and the look of delight on her face when the letters back arrived – there are so many ways to connect and share you care sometimes the old fashioned options are a welcome break!