Another Zoom meeting??

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Connection looks a whole lot different these days, doesn’t it?! Just a few months ago, connection often meant a family gathering around the Christmas tree, friends reconnecting at a local restaurant upon returning to college in January, and 24 Kindergarteners sitting on their carpet circles sharing Show and Tell stuffed animals. Now, in April 2020, connection looks like a bunch of Brady Bunch squares on a screen and sounds a lot like, “I have a Zoom meeting in 30 minutes.” 

Do you know…all five people in my house had a Zoom meeting at 9 a.m. one day last week? That means finding enough devices, headphones, and sort-of-quiet rooms for each person; a task that, in my opinion, counted as “work” for the whole day. 

I read an article recently on a new phenomenon called “virtual fatigue.” The premise is just as it sounds – virtual communication may cause us to feel fatigued. Logically, it’s hard to understand – I mean, we’re just sitting in a (hopefully) comfortable chair, staring at a screen, talking just like we would in-person. What’s so fatiguing about that? On the other side of logic, virtual fatigue also means we’re subconsciously reminded of the stressful time we’re in – the fact we have to work from our bedroom or closet. We have to catch up with our friends and family from the same space in which we work, which may feel like work all over again. 

We are also moving a lot less, which leads to eye strain, headaches, and aching shoulders. Lack of movement itself causes tiredness which can lead to fatigue. Virtual fatigue can also be caused by denial of our emotional reality; we may act a little more happy or patient or calm than we actually feel because it is just easier to hide behind a screen. I’m there!  What about you? 

Personally, I’ve been limiting my virtual social gatherings as a way to try and preserve my energy. As an extrovert and a lover of being in large groups of people, I end up feeling discouraged, sad, and lonely a few days a week. This has become my reality, so I have been choosing to seek out online meetings that are emotionally life-giving. One of those meetings is a counseling group that I facilitate on Thursday evenings. 

The Women’s Relational Growth Group met for two months before switching to an online format during this social distancing period. When our Zoom meeting begins, we have a check-in that allows each woman the opportunity to truly express how they are doing and feeling since the last group meeting. It is so refreshing to hear honest, raw, and relatable updates from each other. Hearing a familiar story from a somewhat-unfamiliar person breeds a powerful emotional connection that can and will endure even virtual fatigue.  After check-ins, we spend some time processing life in a safe environment; one that is guided by counselors with the goal of identifying and enacting healthy and fulfilling relationships. 

Think about your current relationships right now, which may include coworkers, friends, family members, and romantic partners. Which of these statements ring true for you? 

  • I am able to talk openly around this person, even if what I say may be uncomfortable.
  • There is mutual respect for each other’s time and energy – I do not feel like I give too much or take too much from this person. 
  • I feel genuinely cared for and do not feel obligated to return favors or gifts.
  • There is an understanding that our opinions may differ, and there is not a lot of defensiveness that shows up.
  • When we have a disagreement, I feel safe enough to talk to the other person about how the circumstance affected me. I also am open to hearing their side of the story in order to resolve any hurt feelings.

I hope you have at least one person with whom you feel safe and fulfilled  in a relationship. If you wish your relationships were a little more like the phrases above, I encourage you to join the Women’s Relational Growth Group. Click here to learn more and to register. 

Written by Lauren Eisleben