Are you feeling tired and wiped by the end of the day?

businesswoman with a key winder on her back sleeping on laptop

Remote working; How to avoid brain strain, energy drain and zoom gloom.

Have you wondered why, with less travel-time, less frustrations with public transport and/or parking issues, you feel fairly drained by the end of your working day?

7 steps to stop brain strain below

The overall impact of video calls and training has yet to be fully understood or studied but many of us can certainly feel it! Just organising a video call or being on one brings in a level of anxiety which is an energy sapper to begin with.

Video calls require more focus and concentration than face-to–face meetings. We automatically work harder to process non-verbal clues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice as well as body language (difficult to judge on a screen). All these are essential for ease of comprehension.

Managing the assimilation of information input combined with intense focus requires a lot more brain energy than before Lockdown.

The brain makes up around 2% of overall body weight but uses over 20% of our energy, under normal conditions. Different parts of the brain provide different services for us to translate various signals, to store, archive and understand the information; which we do simultaneously. We also have to assess the data, to work out the implications and consider the outcomes.

This increased intensity of focus and energy is difficult to sustain over long periods and is exhausting. Harvard carried out a study some time ago reporting that it took 20 minutesof focus to reach the optimal state of concentration, which can be maintained for 20 minutes. There then follows a decline or wind-down for the next 20 minutes.

Stress and anxiety created by video calls are being felt in other ways. People feel that their minds are connected in the zoom meeting but that their bodies somehow don’t feel the same ease creating a type of dissonance. This produces conflicting emotions which is another depleting aspect of the new way of working. People’s heart-rate is often measured 170 BPM during video calls when there are online-link breaks, poor signal and/or technical glitches.

Research has shown that delays on the phone or conference calls of even 1.2 seconds make people believe that the other person is less friendly or focussed.

Also, people find silence difficult. During normal face to face meetings, silence is natural and can also act as a time to reflect and consider what has been said, giving a short break for the brain to catch up. Online however, it makes people feel uncomfortable.

These tips will help you keep better focus, prevent energy drain and brain strain:

  • Book out 20 minutes for yourself between each Zoom meeting to allow time for the mind to settle. Get up, stretch, walk around (outside is  even better if possible)
  • Drink more water – if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated
  • Eat 5-6 lighter meals a day to keep calories topped up and support the body (avoid the fridge at other times)
  • Don’t skip on breakfast
  • Snack on natural fruits for natural sugars for brain fuel. Snack on vegetables like cucumber, peppers, carrots and celery with dips eg humous.
  • Spread avocado, peanut butter or oily fish on oat-cakes which are better than processed bread and gluten free. Vitamin B, Omega 3 Oils are good for the brain.
  • Have a little raw dark chocolate handy, especially for the afternoon energy dip.– the flavanoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower stress hormone levels and improve your mood. In addition, cacao contains just a bit of caffeine to boost your energy levels and help you power through.

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