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Wellness Wednesday: Virtual Meetings got you drained? We asked a doctor how to avoid "Zoom Fatigue"

As more people work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, doctors say virtual meetings can effect us physically and mentally

CLEVELAND — Zoom fatigue is an issue impacting more and more workers, as people continue working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. All these virtual meetings can leave you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. So for this week's Wellness Wednesday, we spoke to Dr. Jane Pernotto Ehrman at the Cleveland Clinic about how you can beat Zoom fatigue.

Part of the exhaustion, Ehrman says, is that virtual meetings are so impersonal. "When we're in an in person meeting, we are physically in a space where we see each other, we can make eye contact, we can read people's emotions, their body language, those types of things," she said. "When you're on a Zoom meeting, most people — I've come to notice — have a black screen with their name on it, or just a picture and so you wonder are they really there? Are they multitasking? Did they step away? There's that uneasiness about what's really happening."

Ehrman says this uncertainty can affect our brains. She says our brains are wired for negativity - we're anticipating something going wrong. This can lead to exhaustion and trouble focusing. Mental focus is also difficult, Ehrman says, with everyone able to have multiple devices running at once. She says virtual meetings can leave you, "irritable, short tempered, anxious, really stressed, have difficulty getting to sleep, letting go of the day, have difficulty because you're home you're more likely to go grab something to eat to calm down, instead of do some breathing or step outside, those kinds of things."

So how do you beat it? First, Ehrman says that if you're suffering from Zoom fatigue, cut yourself some slack. Working from home is still relatively new to a lot of people. But beating the stress comes even before you join the call.

"Make sure before you get on a meeting that you are centered and grounded and present," she said. "Stay as involved during the meeting as able. That's important to do."

Once you're done, she says, decompressing is key. "Get the stress out, do something self care wise to help yourself relieve the stress," Ehrman said. "Even if it's just breathing, gathering up the tension you feel, parting your lips, and letting it go from your mouth. Exhaling from your mouth is an excellent stress reliever."