March 2021
The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
Zoom Fatigue and How to Address It
— Nancy Riffer, Communications Committee

Whether in Meeting for Worship, worship sharing, Yearly Meeting, discussion groups, or workshops, we are called upon to use Zoom. Many of us experience Zoom as fatiguing.

Stanford University scientists have been studying Zoom fatigue and recently shared their findings in this article. Reflecting on their findings, I offer some of my own observations and suggestions for habits which are healthy and that minimize the fatigue and ill temper or moodiness we experience.

The amount of eye contact is intense

Watching many faces on the screen at the same time uses a lot of cognitive energy. We are getting more information in a visual form than we are used to. Furthermore, the size of faces on the screen can cause us to feel that people are too close for comfort. We are on high alert when that happens.

To reduce the strain from the amount of eye contact, we can reduce the size of the zoom boxes by not using full screen mode and by reducing the size of the zoom screen by dragging the edge of the zoom screen to a smaller size. If we can sit farther from the screen, it increases the social distance and reduces our need to respond as if someone were in our personal space. 

Seeing ourselves on screen all the time is stressful

We are more aware of how we look on Zoom than in a face-to-face situation. We spend extra energy worrying about how we look. And if we have presentation anxiety it can be amplified.

We can turn off the video function that allows us to see ourselves. When we do that others can still see us but we do not have to look at ourselves. On your laptop or PC, right-click your video to display the menu, then choose Hide Myself (this feature isn’t available on all devices). We can also turn off the video function but this has the disadvantage of making us invisible to others as well as to ourselves. Not being able to see the person who is hidden reduces the amount of information for other participants and is particularly disconcerting when participating in a small group.

Zoom calls reduce our usual mobility

In-person and audio calls allow us to move around. The cameras on our devices have very limited field of view so we must remain in a small area to be seen.

We can set up our cameras so that we can stand up during meetings. We can use an external camera that allows for a wider field of view so we can move more freely. And a group can reach an agreement that participants may move about as needed. We can turn off our cameras if we need to move and especially to move the placement of our computer in the room.

Zoom calls require a much higher cognitive load than in-person interactions

Gestures and non-verbal cues work differently on Zoom. We spend energy sending and receiving those signals. We cannot “read a room” or get the sense of the Meeting without seeking explicit information. Assent requires vigorous nodding or thumbs up. We cannot scan a group the way we would in person. People who move on screen when others are still attract our attention when the movement may not have any meaning. If someone takes off their jacket or closes a door in one box on a screen where other participants are sitting quietly, that movement draws our eye and uses cognitive energy to be processed.

We can reduce cognitive load when a group agrees on signals to indicate certain communications, such as: thumbs up for agreement, raising hands to take a turn, twinkle fingers for appreciation. Some groups use the digital signals built into Zoom; these give the leader information about who wants to speak or how many agree but it does not give that information to the group. To reduce cognitive load we can also turn off our video and then turn our backs to the screen so we cease to have video input and only listen to the conversation for a while. And we can make sure our others do not have to strain to see us or read our expressions because our screens are too dark. Sitting so that a light source, such as a window or lamp, is in front of us, not behind us helps to make sure our face is visible to everyone. If others are too dark we can ask them to find light that brightens their faces. 

Over the past months, Friends have been learning ways to use Zoom productively. As we approach the one year anniversary of meeting over Zoom, maybe these suggestions will help us find additional adaptations we can make which will make our time together easier.
New: Sharing our Spiritual Journeys, Fourth Sundays
Ministry and Worship is sponsoring a new worship sharing series on the fourth Sunday of the month from 9:30 to 10:15 am. The focus will be on Sharing our Spiritual Journeys. M&W will ask one Friend each month to spend about 15 minutes sharing about their spiritual journey and then we will have about 30 minutes for worship sharing.
Join us on Zoom March 28 at 9:30am when Steve Molke will share his spiritual journey followed by worship sharing. Barbara Chase will facilitate. The Link will be sent out with announcements closer to the date.
Mending Session

Have you been mending, repairing, or fixing tangible things this winter? Do you want to show us what you've done? Do you have a mending project you'd like advice, suggestions, or just motivation to start on? Maybe you want to show us those wool socks you darned, that blender you repaired, the lamp you rewired. Or it's finally time to take care of that shirt that needs a new button. Or maybe you'd like advice on how to sharpen your dull garden shears. Join us in a Zoom meeting on Monday, March 29 at 6:30 to tackle these chores in a friendly, sociable space! See below for Zoom link. Questions? ask Melissa Travis Dunham or Cai Quirk.
Easter services and in-person worship options

Easter (April 4th) will deliver two opportunities for in-person worship. First, please consider joining us (masked and dressed warmly) for in sunrise service at Hector Meetinghouse at 6am. Second, we plan to resume our hybrid Meeting for Worship at the Third Street Meetinghouse on Easter Sunday, so you may join us in-person or through Zoom at 10:30.
Remote Meeting for Worship every Sunday at 10:30am

Friends can join online Meeting for Worship using a computer, with or without a video camera, or by phone. Join online with this link or from your Zoom app with Meeting ID: 372 632 479 and password: friends. You can also join by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering Meeting ID: 372 632 479 when prompted.

These instructions and more are available in the site with a big Connect to Meeting for Worship button.
Where are Monthly Meeting minutes?

The minutes from Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business can be found on the right-side column of our website. The minutes from February are here.

March Calendar of Ithaca Monthly Meeting
IMM Guys Lunch
Thursday, March 4, 12n

A time together for Quaker men and people who dont mind talking to them. Bring your lunch and enjoy fellowship.
Sunday, March 7, 9:30a

Join Friends to watch a brief QuakerSpeak video and discuss what you watched. This week, we will be watching "My Journey as a Transgender Quaker."
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
Sunday, March 14, 12:30p

Please send annual reports to the Clerk by Monday, February 8. (Contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter.)
Womens Fellowship is Zooming
Friday, March 19, 6:30p

Bring your knitting, wear your best sweatpants... or not... and join us for an informal hangout. Hope to see you there!
Sunday, March 21, 9:30a

Join Friends to watch a brief QuakerSpeak video and discuss what you watched.
Mending Session
Monday, March 29, 6:30p

Have you repaired or mended things around the house? Would you like to? Join Melissa Travis Dunham, Cai Quirk, and other Friends in a Zoom meeting to discuss our mending chores in a friendly, sociable space. See below for Zoom link. Questions? ask Melissa Travis Dunham or Cai Quirk.
Easter Sunrise Service
Sunday, April 4, 6a

Join Friends (masked and dressed warmly) for in sunrise service at Hector Meetinghouse at 6am. The beautiful Hector Meetinghouse is heated by a wood stove, and has no electricity or plumbing. It is located 5 miles northwest of Ithaca at 5066 Perry City Road, off Route 96.
Womens Chair Yoga now by Zoom
Monday & Thursdays, 11a to noon
This long-running group, which met for years at the meetinghouse, now runs on Zoom, making it more accessible than ever. To join in, email <> The group is about half Friends and half neighbors, nurturing the Inner Light. No yoga experience required. There is a sliding-scale fee. For more info or questions, Nancy Gabriel, 607-339-7123;
120 Third Street • Ithaca NY 14850
Gina Varrichio, Clerk

Pat Sewell, Treasurer
Marin Clarkberg, Newsletter editor
Newsletter contributions due on
last Monday of the month at 5pm