Zoom Fatigue? 5 Better Ways to Connect from Home

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We are now several months into quarantine, and many of us still have not socialized with even our closest family and friends for a very long time. If you are feeling disconnected, you are not alone.

Many of our socializing habits remain unavailable to us in a continued effort to contain COVID-19. Restaurants and bars in much of the country are still closed, gatherings are limited in number or discouraged entirely, social distancing and mask wearing are still recommended practices. This means the activities that symbolize summertime togetherness are restricted or completely off-limits: live concerts, ball games, graduations, pool parties, BBQ’s, beach days....

In an effort to stay connected, many have been using video technologies like Zoom to socialize with distant cherished friends and family. However, as many are discovering several months and dozens of Zoom calls in, “Zoom fatigue” is real.

The fatigue is partly because many of us may find ourselves making overblown expressions in order to communicate our interest: larger-than-life eyebrow raises, hand gestures, smiles, and laughs. All those exaggerated reactions are energetically draining. But really, at the end of a work or school week, who wants to be on another Zoom call anyway? (Hint: Not us!)

You don’t need more stress, and neither do your loved ones. And until there is a vaccine, here are some ways to connect that are meaningful and fun, and that don’t involve shouting and over-emoting into a computer screen.

Binge watch together

No need to be high-brow. Do you and your best friend love “Seinfeld,” “Breaking Bad,” or “My So Called Life”? Maybe catch up on “Succession”, "Euphoria", and “Fargo” before the new seasons drop. Make some popcorn, plop down on your respective couches, and know you’re laughing and gasping in all the same places as your bestie in another time zone.

To add extra fun, call or text your way through together. Oh, you’re high-tech? Then we don't need to tell you about the Netflix Party extension on Chrome. You’ll be able to watch simultaneously, complete with a chat box for outfit commentary and sidebar gossip.

Make a mixtape

Or the 21st century version of a mixtape. Make a playlist on Spotify, iTunes, or your favorite streaming platform for your best friend, dad, or grandma to dance, drive, or clean the house to. Or create a collaborative playlist you can both add songs to, each with a predetermined mood—songs that make you laugh, cry, forget about the distance, or maybe inspire you to make something of your own.

Assemble a care package

You bought five-pounds of popcorn back when it was scarce at the supermarket. Now it’s time to share the wealth of your pantry (did you hoard coffee and chocolate, too?), along with that page-turning novel you just finished, incense or a candle, a cute tea mug, maybe a throw-back photo of you two hugging at your favorite spot 5 years ago. This is an especially great way to show a friend who lives alone or a single relative that you’re thinking of them. If a local contactless delivery isn’t a possibility, you can buy postage online and schedule the package to be picked up by a shipping service.

Write a letter

Remember writing letters?? Like with pens?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and being away from your loved ones can be a great opportunity to really think about what you love most about them. And then pick up some paper or a blank card and a pen and tell them. Email feels so impersonal. And who doesn't love being the recipient of a hand-written letter?

Or embrace the postcard as a slow-mo upgrade to the text message. Stamp a pile of postcards and stash them somewhere convenient. Your notes don’t have to be profound or long, just thoughtful.

Want the tech-savvy hack? Turn iPhoto photos into postcards using an app like TouchNote or PostSnap.

Pick up Ye Olde Telephone

It may seem quaint by comparison, but we’re becoming reacquainted with the simple charms of the telephone chat. With only one voice, it’s easier to focus on what is actually being said—and not be distracted by the way we look on camera.

You’re also not captive to your seat on the couch when you’re on the phone. Plug in your headphones and take a walk with your phone and your friend—it’s almost like the hikes you took together in the olden days. Remember the sunshine, the sweat, the dusty trail? Walking enhances creative thinking and roaming in nature will lift your spirits. Multiply those rewards with the joy-boosting benefits of friendship and social distance doesn’t feel so disconnected after all.


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