For most people who are working from home, video calls are now a part of everyday life. But what if you struggle with anxiety surrounding these calls?
I, like many others, have been working from home since March and in part, it’s been pretty good. I’ve gotten into a daily routine and because I’m part time, I get every afternoon off to do some blogging, exercise or practice self-care. Being at home has meant getting more work done and being even more productive.
However, one aspect of working from home that I haven’t warmed to is video calling.
This form of communication has grown in popularity since the start of lockdown with apps like Zoom, GoToWebinar, Google Teams and Skype helping to make communicating easier. But, despite all the positives, what is this technology doing to our mental health? Here are a few things I struggle with when using video call apps:
- Fear of judgement
- Experience low self esteem
- Never feeling prepared
- Feeling self-conscious about the way I look
As someone who doesn’t look in the mirror and avoids her reflection at any cost, being on video in front of people where I can see myself makes me feel really anxious. Add to this the anxiety around whether the technology works and whether I’m sat in the right position, it can be an overwhelming experience.
I have been trying to work on my anxieties and have put together a few tips that may be useful:
Speak to your manager about your concerns
Let them know that you’re feeling anxious about the video calls and ask whether it would be alright to join the meeting with your camera turned off. Explain that you’d still be taking part and contributing but would rather not be on camera.
Turn your camera/mic off when you enter the call
Turning your camera/mic off doesn’t mean you won’t able to participate. You’ll still be involved you’ll be able to see everyone but they won’t be able to see you. This should reduce the amount of pressure you feel. When you get used to doing this, in the future, you might want to take small steps to being on camera, for example, turning it on when you speak and off when you’re not.
Take part in the call on your laptop so your image appears smaller
The microphone/camera on my laptop doesn’t work so I have to join calls using my mobile phone. This means that the image of me fills the screen at times and makes me feel anxious. Using a laptop means your image will appear smaller so should help to reduce anxiety.
Prepare for your meeting
Preparing for the meeting in advance might help your feelings of anxiety. See if you can have an agenda in advance so you know when you’ll be speaking. This means you’ll be able to plan what to say and write down any questions you want to ask on the call.
Think to yourself ‘are people really looking at me?’
In my mind, as soon as I get on that call, I think people are staring at me and judging me. In reality, they’re probably thinking about the meeting ahead and whether they’re all set up right for the call. Try to keep this question in mind to help bring your awareness back to what’s happening during your video meeting.
Try some positive self-talk
There’s so much around at the moment about thinking positively and the use of positive affirmations. Affirmations are little phrases or sayings that help to promote better self-confidence and make you feel better about yourself/your situation. Try sticking some post-it notes around your laptop screen so you can see them when you’re on your calls. Or, pop them in your notebook so you can see them while taking notes from the meeting. I find phrases such as ‘I love and accept myself’ and ‘I am confident in my abilities and skills and do not need the validation of others’. The second one is quite helpful in relation to video call anxiety.
If you’re feeling video call anxiety, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In general, being on camera is a scary thing. It’s a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it. And if you don’t like it, then that’s OK too. Work out what’s best for you and your mental health and make sure you’re only doing what you’re happy to.