I thought it was just me, this exhausted feeling I’d been experiencing after four months conducting video sessions at work with patients. But, I’m learning I’m not alone. One of my dearest friends sent me a post from her son who got it from someone else practicing as psychologist who shared it and then someone else shared…on and on it went until it got to me. It goes like this:
“ I spoke to an old therapist friend and finally understood why everyone’s so exhausted after video calls. It’s the plausible deniability of everyone’s absence. Our minds are tricked into the idea of being together when our bodies feel we’re not. Dissonance is exhausting.
It’s easier being in each other’s presence, or each other’s absence, than in the constant presence of each other’s absence. Our bodies process so much context, so much information, in encounters, that meeting on video is being a weird kind of blindfolded.
We sense too little and can’t imagine enough, that single deprivation requires a lot of effort.”
~Gianpiero Petriglieri, INSEAD, Paris.
I was so fascinated with Dr. Gianpiero Petriglieri’s expression on video sessions, as I’ve been locked away for months and months seeing patient’s on this new platform and felt so exhausted by the end of the day. Now I understand why. It was refreshing to read Professor Petriglieri’s explanation, he gets it, so I sought this guy who so perfectly nailed what I was feeling—and I’m imagining most of you too.
Locked in at home or at work or visiting family and friends through a screen is just not normal. The hugs, smiles and looking into each others eyes for real is just not there. It’s not normal.
It’s not just me exhausted. Most of us are still visiting friends via the Internet, Facebook or some other video site format and we’re lonely. We are told things are getting better with Corona but for some of us it doesn’t feel like that. I’m in South Florida where we are spiking towards very high numbers. Just yesterday, July 5, 2020 there were 4,041 new cases in the past 72 hours. It looks like video sessions with continue for those of us who are remaining cautious.
So here I am mesmerized by a few words from Professor Petriglieri, a person I didn’t even know, until that Facebook post awakened me to the fact that I’m not alone with my exhaustion..
Dr. Gianpiero Petriglieri is a medical doctor and psychiatrist by training who now researches and practices leadership development. He is an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD.
Dr. Petriglieri is known as an expert on leadership and learning in the workplace. And through this COVID he’s been featured on BBC Work-life and speaking on other platforms to this point.
So as I was tooling around trying to find out more about this doctor I found a fascinating article: The reason Zoom Calls Drain Your Energy, by Manyu Jiang.
Jiang nails it noting our screen freezes, There’s a weird echo, A dozen heads stare at you. Now for me I’m only with one head staring at me after another and another for ten hours every day in an office completely alone. Others are on Zoom with several heads staring at them. It’s a strange new norm especially when I thought this was a two-week stint that seems never ending with the Florida spike in new cases.
No doubt since Corona we are all more than not conducting a Zoom call, or FacetTiming our family and friends, video messaging or conducting cocktail hour (for those of you who drink) and many other forms of video connection. In this article Jiang quotes Dr. Petriglieri saying, “Being on a Video chat requires more focus than a face-to-face chat.”
It means we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. He goes on to say, “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhaustion. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally.”
No wonder I, like most of you, have been wiped out—totally exhausted after a days work. Normally, I settle into my work week with gusto but as of late it’s a push to get through the day because of the separation.
For a minute I chose to bring one patient in a day, wearing masks during our session, but this too is not natural perhaps even worse than the sessions via video. But after the spike I’m rethinking bringing anybody in for an in-person session, even with protections in place. So back to video sessions…
These video sessions are a reminder we a not together. People are not with people…but it’s a good backup for sure.
I miss jumping on the plane and visiting my family in Chicago and up in Wautoma Wisconsin. I miss going out to dinner once in a while with my husband. I miss seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they are covered in a mask in every public place I go.
As I think about E.E. Cumming’s quote, The most wasted of all days is one without laughter I ponder over the simplicity of just laughing.
Sure we can laugh on our video chats, and surely I do, but there’s that missing connection. And let’s face it, there’s not much to be laughing about these days with a virus looming, protests, and political unrest, not to mention my husbands restaurant closed for four months.
But we need to laugh. All this seriousness is too much.
When was the last time you watched little kids giggling? Their whole body laughs to the point they may even fall to the ground. When was the last time you laughed like that? I recently read laughter can increase oxygen and endorphins, improve your mood, and reduce physical pain. Now that’s a big bang for a bit of a giggle. Think back to the last time you had one of those deep belly laughs, I bet just thinking about it makes you laugh.
Did you know endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers? And did you know by laughing you could release these very endorphins, which help lighten or even ease chronic pain, hence making you feel good all over. But most of the time we are not laughing by ourselves we are laughing with someone or about something.
Yes for the most part laughter involves something or somebody to make us laugh. I bet for most of us, it’s our beloved pet(s), children, grandchildren, family, or friends that brings out the giggles. During the isolation time with the coronavirus most of us realized more than ever how important people are.
I’ll admit I can be a bit of a loaner, but it was by choice. I’ve prided to the fact I’m entertained by myself with books, writing, along with long walks but since the “imposed” isolation and social distancing I’m missing people. I miss sitting face-to-face, in person, with my youngest son and his wife, I miss seeing patients in the flesh not separated by a screen.
People DO need people. In Mother Teresa: Reaching Out in Love, a compilation of stories told by Mother Teresa she had a group of teachers from the United States visiting India who inquired, “Tell us something that will help us to live our lives better. What do you think we could do to bring peace and joy into the world?”
Now that’s a huge question that could go all sorts of directions, but it didn’t. Mother Teresa, with a big smile said: “Smile at each other. Smile at your husband, smile at your wife, smile at your children, be happy with your children. It doesn’t matter who it is, smile at them.” Whoa, how simple is that? My goodness if a smile can bring peace and joy into the world we should all wear a continuous grin.
And you wouldn’t smile alone, unless you’re having a memory of something, for the most part you are smiling with another. People need people. And you can add you fur and feather kids to the mix too. Studies show animals DO experience a rich array of emotions, especially for their human family members.
So, as exhausted as we all are it’s time to remember the simplicity of a smile or a giggle or two, even if you are video fatigued. Laughter is just that free medicine to bring things back to life and light. Smile and giggle…and you’ll feel a whole lot better.
Are you exhausted from Zooming or Facetiming or whatever video chats you’re engaged in? Do you feel lonely and disconnected? What about laughing, have you? Are you smiling at everyone you see or looking away? Yes of course it’s tough to know if a smile is present when covered by a face mask…but if you look into the eyes of another you’ll see the squint and know there’s a smile waiting for you.
Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander…
Hugs to you…I care!
Dr. Ortigara Crego
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