Five tips to avoid virtual communications burnout

Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Authentika Consulting.

Since COVID-19 touched down with a significant impact in March 2020, many Canadian workers found themselves relocating to home-based work and using virtual meeting technology to communicate with clients and colleagues alike.

With the second wave of the pandemic upon us, workers are still relegated to working from home and using virtual communication tools. Lately, I’ve heard many people say that they are “Zoomed out.” It is no wonder when statistics from Zoom Video Communications showed a rise from 200 million daily meeting participants in March 2020 to 300 million the following month.

Our reliance on virtual communications might be straining our state of mental health during these uncertain times. Mix in a few other complicating factors including a rapidly approaching year-end, an unprecedented holiday season and stress that already existed before the pandemic and it creates a perfect storm. 

While we are given data about rising mental health concerns, it is the practical, accessible and free resources that may actually help stem the tide of emotional, mental and/or physical exhaustion many are experiencing.

As a professional coach and business consultant, it is my training as a certified meditation teacher and Ayurvedic educator that is most valuable when it comes to this topic.

Five tips to avoid virtual communications burnout

These five common sense tips are intended to help you, and those you fear might not be coping well, stay connected during the dark, cold, winter ahead.

  1. Watch for signs of burnout. Are you feeling a greatly reduced energy level and ability to concentrate? Do you believe that even though you’re working long hours, you’re not sure that what you’re doing makes a difference? If the answer is a resounding yes to these and other questions, you may benefit from taking an online burnout symptoms test. Two free tests are found at Mindtools.com and PsychologyToday.com and they take a matter of minutes to complete.
  2. Establish and communicate boundaries. If you find yourself in back-to-back virtual meetings, take a look at your week ahead to determine if: a) you’re a “must attend” meeting participant; b) you can find an alternative way of communicating (e.g. phone call or instant message); and c) you can address the issue without a virtual meeting.
    It also means deciding when your workday starts and ends so you can honour the separation between your work and home life.
  3. Ask for feedback. Consider where you might be struggling the most and how that might be observed by others both verbally and nonverbally. Then ask someone you trust and respect for one piece of specific feedback about this area of your behaviour. When they respond, share your thanks so that they will feel comfortable offering you feedback again in future.
  4. Ask for help. If you’re struggling, remember you’re not alone. According to a recent Leger survey, 24 per cent of Canadians and 16 per cent of Americans report that their mental health and stress levels are currently worse compared to the first pandemic wave in March.  
    Remember, there are free confidential resources available including employer-sponsored employee assistance programs and government-funded agencies. Even one conversation with someone who is willing to listen can make a positive difference. 
  5. Take regular breaks. Ensure you take breaks in your day. This could look like booking 50-minute meetings instead of the usual hour time slot in order to give yourself a break before your next call. During the break, go for a short walk, get a glass of water, belly breathe, meditate, do chair yoga or stretching before you turn your attention back to work. 

By Susan Cranston, BA, CEBS, ACC, Certified Leadership Coach & Small Business Consultant.

With more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience in HR, group benefits and marketing, Susan leverages her coaching and consulting skills to help clients identify goals and harness methods for attaining their professional potential. Susan is a certified evidence-based coach, published author and former television and radio talk show host. See AuthentikaConsulting.com.

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