Healthy Mind

The Zoom Life Is a Journey—Here’s an Exhaustive Guide To Surviving It and Thriving

Kells McPhillips

Photo: Getty Images/Igor Ustynskyy
If you would’ve told me this time last year that I’d be spending more time on Zoom in 2020 than I would at my local yoga studio, I would have laughed in your face. The video chatting software saw 300 million daily meeting participants in April 2020 compared to a modest 10 million in December 2019—and even though we couldn’t possibly do our jobs without it right now, all that time on camera does take a mental health toll. That’s why, this year, we rounded up tips for Zoom meetings from our arsenal of expert sources—from psychologists to makeup artists and everyone in between.

Below, you’ll find the five pieces of advice that helped us navigate Zoom in 2020, and will continue to prove relevant as the world becomes increasingly more digital. From snuffing out Zoom fatigue to making yourself look wide awake for a 7 a.m. video brainstorm, here’s how to be the greatest “Zoomer” of all time.

5 tips for Zoom meetings that focus on your mental well-being

1. Learn to overcome the “presence of absence”

Sonyia Richardson, PhD, LCSW, a clinical assistant professor of social work at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, defined the presence of absence as follows: “a deep state of heaviness and separation.” She went on to explain that these feelings often arise when we’re on Zoom because we’re together virtually while being separated physically. As a consequence, our mirror neurons—a group of brain cells responsible for compassion that are triggered when we’re in a room with others—don’t fire, and we feel a sinking sense of being disconnected.

To combat this feeling of being at once present and absent, Dr. Richardson recommended checking in with each and every video participant before kicking off the meeting, designating unmute time where everyone has an equal spotlight, and spending extra time commenting on how pretty your coworker’s hair looks or [insert other compliment here]. That way, you’re making them feel seen—and we all want that.

2. Be aware of how staring at your face for hours on end is affecting your mental well-being

To no one’s great surprise, staring at yourself on Zoom all day does not a mental health practice make. “When we see ourselves on video screens, face on, it tends to make us more self-conscious about how we look to ourselves and others,” Vivian Diller, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City, previously told Well+Good. That’s why she recommends zeroing in on the features you love about yourself instead of perceived imperfections during your endless lineup of Zoom gatherings. That way, your meeting is doubling as a self-esteem workshop.

3. Take time to learn Zoom-specific makeup tips

Zoom makeup is the 2020 version of stage makeup—and this year taught us that it’s a fine art. “It’s all about emphasizing features you want to come forward—like turning up the contrast on a picture,” celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno told Well+Good’s associate beauty editor, Zoë Weiner. “It’s nice to have a little color on the cheeks and the lips.” Watch the full video and you’ll learn how to apply makeup that makes your features P-O-P on Zoom.

4. Why so serious? Keep fun alive on Zoom

One of the major benefits of Zoom is that it has opened up the world in a time when everything else is closed. I mean, I challenge you to name another platform that allows you to visit a zoo, go to a concert, and take a painting class with friends from across the country all in the same night. Like so much of 2020, you have to squint to find the good in Zoom—but it’s definitely there. Just ask anyone who’s ever met a giraffe virtually.

5. Use Zoom for your workouts, too

When all our go-to fitness studios shut down, we turned to at-home workout apps to break a sweat. Around the same time, Zoom classes with trainers we know and love emerged to give us that “live” experience through the magic of the internet. Zoom became a place to strength train, practice yoga, and even jump around on a mini-trampoline in the company of others. Come 2021, many studios will once again throw open their doors, but you can still continue to work out with friends near and far via Zoom. And there’s something special about that.

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