By Katy Cable — A 4 min Read

ARRRGUUHH!!!!!I have a raging zoom hangover. Anyone else? At the beginning of this pandemic I saw ZOOM as a blessing. A convenient, safe way to resume all my meetings and get business done while sheltering in place.

And then, not two weeks later, it exploded. Not only were meetings being done on ZOOM but it seems my entire life is now “AVAILABLE ON ZOOM!” Yoga, dance classes, therapy, doctors appointments, all my favorite TV shows happening on ZOOM.

I understand celebrating graduations, birthdays, and new babies but I draw the line when it comes to my indulgent spring retreat. The whole purpose was to, “disconnect from technology” and enjoy a rejuvenating getaway in a beautiful, tranquil local. I nearly spit out my green tea when I saw the email informing me of the good news. Instead of rescheduling or cancelling and refunding our money, the weekend was going to happen ON ZOOM!

I don’t know about anyone else but I’d rather spend the weekend pulling weeds in my poorly tended garden than spend a 10 hour day staring at my computer screen while trying to meditate and journal on ZOOM. I can see it now, once I nailed my downward dog my husband would be forgetting I’m “retreating in our bedroom” and asking if he can eat the last of the grilled chicken for lunch. Dogs would be barking, doorbells ringing, phones buzzing. That’s a hard “NO!” for me!

I quickly learned when it comes to ZOOM, there’s much more to it than simply clicking: “JOIN A MEETING.” To avoid looking like a creature out of the Zombie Apocalypse, I need a full-on makeover and a well lit room. I also got the harsh enlightenment that privacy is an issue when random strangers in my meeting began commenting on photos and book titles they saw in the background of my screen.

Forget leaving that mountain of unfolded laundry on the table and all my dishes stacked in the sink. If my peers and associates are peering in I need a clean house. Who am I kidding…Clean? I’m so obsessive I need to make my home look like it’s featured on an episode of Million Dollar Listing.

Once a meeting gets rolling it only gets worse. My patience during this pandemic is in as short a supply as Lysol wipes. Especially when it comes to less technologically savvy ZOOM members. These novices haven’t a clue they can “mute” their microphones. For them to successfully do it is another thing entirely. In addition to our ZOOM meeting, we typically get the added bonus of someone trying to juggle homeschooling their frustrated child. Or the toddler that woke up from their nap and is having a full-blown nuclear meltdown.

There’s always a few people with sketchy WiFi. The deafening feedback is far worse than running fingernails down a chalkboard. I have yet to do a ZOOM meeting without a few “over-achievers!” They’re the ones trying to multi-task and also get in a good run or their 4,000 steps during the meeting. Even worse, one gal decided to walk her unruly curious dogs while Zooming. It was like watching footage of a spinning Chihuahua with a GoPro on it’s head. I needed a Dramamine after just a few minutes of that.

At best I feel like I’m living in the opening credits of Brady Bunch, sans the groovy fashions.

Again, the first week it was cute and creative watching Jimmy Fallon and everyone else doing shows from their living rooms. In addition to celebrity guests we watched toddlers, teens and spouses getting in the act. Now… I’m over it. I’d rather watch my facial mask dry or work on my sourdough starter.

In my initial “work from home” panic, I actually “jete’d” at the chance to pay full price for my ballet class when it was offered on ZOOM. I ended up performing for all my neighbors who had nothing better to do than watch me “tendu” on my balcony. When I got self-conscious and moved inside, my “grand battement” or, giant kick, for those of you who aren’t familiar with ballet, knocked over a lamp and nearly flattened my pug’s already flat face. I’m a little sad my neighbors missed my big finale.

My husband’s annoying habit of crunching ice and slurping the very last ounce of his morning latte is enough to have me contemplating domestic abuse. Now I have the pleasure of an entire meeting full of slurping, crunching colleagues.

Again, Zooming for fun with my closest “quarantined friends” is one thing. Count me OUT for adding a social hour, or lunch ZOOM to an already way too long work meeting.

ZOOM started out a nice treat! A decadent dessert reserved for special occasions. It was a way to make my life a bit better. Well now I’ve had so much I’ve developed Type 2 Diabetes. I’m feeling sick and missing my old life even MORE.

I doubt ZOOM will be gone with the happy ending of the pandemic. It’s far to easy and cost effective. So, as we navigate this new way, here are a few things to do to avoid burnout and a nasty ZOOM hangover:

  1. Pick and Choose: If this is the only way to see close friends, relatives and celebrate milestones GO FOR IT! DO NOT start switching up conference calls and creating work socials on ZOOM. Just give everyone the downtime instead. Or recommend a Podcast or taking walk in the fresh air and sunshine.
  2. Keep it short and take breaks. Staring at screens for too long will burn out even the most focused guru. It’s impossible to stay motivated! Instead, break meetings into smaller chunks of time with a well planned agenda.
  3. Make it fun! Instead of the same old ZOOM class or meeting, get everyone in the act by having people pick themes. All participants can vote. Award prizes for those who dress up and decorate.
  4. Share recipes beforehand and enjoy cocktails, desserts or healthy snacks. (FIRST LEARN TO WORK THE MUTE BUTTON!)
  5. Have everyone give a house tour. Willing participants can show off their “man-cave,” remodeled kitchen or, just for giggles their filthy office or garage.
  6. Use the creative backdrops if your house looks like you should be on an episode of “HOARDERS.” Try switching it up and Zooming from the beaches of Tahiti or a French cafe.
  7. Dress nicely, invest in some good lighting and look camera ready. Watch some FREE YouTube tutorials on ZOOM makeup and lighting. This may be the key to looking so amazing you land that future spouse or a new dream job. Odds are at some point you’ll be interviewing or dating virtually.

While I’m so grateful for the gifts of technology, I quickly learned what my bandwidth is. I’m more than happy to meet close friends for a ZOOM party to celebrate the new “mom-to-be” or graduate. I’ll happily ZOOM with friends for an hour on a Saturday night prior to a NetFlix binge. However, when it comes to that retreat, ballet class, or work social, I have to regretfully (not really) decline until I can attend in real time. Or else, just like a computer…I will crash and end up with a raging ZOOM hangover.