Yes, you can!
And it has nothing to do with meditating yourself away to a distant beach. Remain (or become) present, alert, and clear.
I know. You have better things to do.
Your body hurts. You’re crashing through an existential crisis.
I hated them, too. Zoom meetings felt like a prison. Like throwing my precious hours, patience, and physical health in the trash. My to-do list terrorizing me, my head inching forward on my tech neck, my glutes atrophying, my will to live draining from my grey, joyless body…
Got me wondering: what can I do? How can I find this enjoyable? How can I feel like this isn’t a complete waste of time and drain on my energy? As always, my solutions were revealed through the defining of the problem. Your solutions might be different.
Thing is: I wasn’t getting my needs met. Or rather, I was afraid (annoyed, depressed, enraged…) that I wasn’t getting my needs met. Emotions exist to indicate met and unmet needs.
Start with a check-in.
Don’t worry (ever. please.); your check-ins will get faster (and eventually run on your back-burner) as you practice. Ask yourself, “what am I feeling?”
Don’t freak out.
For those of us who missed the second grade class in which we were taught self-empathy and emotional regulation (… oh… your school didn’t teach that either?), check in with what you’re feeling in your body. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Chest, back, belly, and hips. Without JUDGING or struggling to “fix,” simply notice.
If you’d like, you can reference this list . It’s my go-to reference when I feel unsettled and lost. Simply holding our loneliness, insecurity, hangriness in non-judgemental awareness does wonders. Like a hug.
Alright! Nice work on the self-empathy. It’s a superpower worth honing. Now, what do we do about those shoulders in your ears and your aversion to spending another minute on your computer??
Getting Stoked for Zoom!
Pre-Zoom assuming you have more than zero minutes between meetings
Center and Ground – you’re gonna be here a while. May as well make yourself at home. How?
Like water when you’re hungover, moving when you “don’t feel like it” can be the best medicine. Stretch the things that get tight, strengthen the things that turn off when we slouch. Focus on letting the energy drain from your face and neck and FEEL your body as you…
- Tuck your chin and look over each shoulder, breathing from the bottom of your belly, then…
- IFF your wrists are okay: Burpees. I’m not kidding.
- If your wrists are not okay: Abs! I love you. And I’m still not kidding. Besides, we spend so much time hunched forward, laying on the floor can feel like a juicy backbend. Try these to wake up your “corset” muscle and support your spine.
- Or! Blast a favorite song and DANCE. Heart rate: up. Wiggles: out. Smile: on your face. Move all your joints through their range of motion. Make sure to toss in some hip circles, squats and fist pumps.
Relieve your mind.
If movement isn’t an option (or you’re just like, “…No.”), grab a pen, set a timer for two minutes, and dump your mind’s clutter onto a page. Stream of consciousness. No filter. Don’t worry, you can shred, burn, or eat it later. Our brain evolved to process, not store our to-do list; offloading to the page eases the mind.
Inconspicuous Solutions for when you’re freaking out, crawling out of (or falling asleep in) your skin/chair during your Zoom meeting:
If you’re feeling Anxious, try 5+ rounds of a calming 4,7,8 breath.
To prepare, place the tip of your tongue behind your front, upper teeth. Let there be space between your molars. Feel your sitting bones heavy in your chair. With an inhale, lift your upper back and align the back of your skull over your sacrum (where your hips meet your spine). On exhale, knit your bottom front ribs down.
Close your mouth and count to four while breathing in through your nose.
Count to seven while holding your breath and relaxing your shoulders, chest, belly.
Count to eight while breathing out through gently parted lips, making a whooshing sound. Feel your breath on your lips.
If you’re feeling Exhausted, opt for an exhilarating 8, 5 breath. Same instructions as above except you inhale for a count of eight, skip the breath hold, and exhale everything out over a count of five.
If you’re feeling Furious, try this soles of the feet meditation. Developed to aid Autistic individuals with anger management… it works.
If you’re feeling Bored,
Be honest! (All ways, always. Please.)
Is this something it’s ok to be bored about? Or is this your newfound (or longstanding) baseline of depression? Have you decided that everything sucks and nothing can arouse you/hold your interest for more than five seconds?
It’s ok. It’s 2020. We’re all depressed at least a little. We can talk about it openly now. We have to.
Shift into gratitude.
Cardio and gratitude are arguably the strongest antidepressants known to man.
- On a work call? Think of three things you love about your job.
- (Interminable) monthly family catchup? Identify three things you like about each participant. Wish each well. With feeling. Loving Kindness never hurt. “May you, dear, sweet, indispensable, flawed family member be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you know peace.”
And for those times it’s plain and simply a boring meeting:
Practice surreptitious self-care, sneaky methods of grounding into your body.
Invest your time in feeling good while remaining as (if not more!) present. Turn your diving bell into a butterfly. Let this moment of captivity be a restorative rest. Here are some of my go-tos:
- Doodle – studies show doodling helps you listen, respond, and retain better
- Stretch your wrists
- Arrange your shins into firelogs and relieve low back tension by passively stretching your hips.
- Rub your feet – you know how. If you think you don’t, start by pinching your instep just behind the big toe mound. Yum.
- Hum to yourself. Feel the vibration…bration-bration-bration in your head, jaw, throat, chest, belly, etc. Be curious. Can you alter the pitch and feel the sensation/location change? It’s said that our own voice is the most soothing sound.
What tricks have you developed to maintain your joie de vivre in this weird, new, screen-bound life?