These first few weeks of Zoom classes have been very difficult for me to adjust to, as I am not used to having to stay seated in front of my computer for long periods of time. I have often found myself feeling very restless during class which causes me a lot of stress. I am sure there are many other students (and maybe even teachers) who are feeling this way, so I thought I would share some of the techniques I use to remain focused during Zoom classes and calm myself down when I feel stressed.  

My first tip is simply to drink water. Whether it be hot water in tea, seltzer, or just plain old ice water, it is extremely important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration can cause headaches, which are only worsened by staring at a screen. So make sure you have a mug, glass, or water bottle near you while you work. 

I would also recommend just finding time during your day when you can get up and move. You could lift weights, go on a walk or run, do some yoga, make a TikTok, or just play with your pet. Whatever gets you away from the computer screen and helps you to destress. If you can manage to get outside, that is amazing, but if you can’t, try opening some windows to let a cool breeze into your room. Breathing in some fresh air after sitting inside all day feels extremely refreshing and freeing. 

When I feel stressed during class, I practice 1:2 breathing. This essentially means that you exhale for twice the amount of time you inhale. Start by breathing in for one second, then out for two. Then breathe in for two, out for four, then in for three out for six, in for four, out for eight, and finally, inhale for five counts and exhale for ten. This breathing exercise helps me center myself and become present. I try to do this at least twice a day but often find myself doing it more times throughout the day as needed. 

I use the ten-minute breaks between classes to get up and stretch or meditate. I’ve found that walking meditation is extremely helpful for me, as I am someone who has a very hard time sitting still while practicing mindfulness. Essentially, walking mindfulness means that you just stay very mindful of each movement you make in the process of walking. This type of meditation allows me to remain centered and I enjoy the movement break it gives me. However, if you would rather try another type of meditation, there are tons of videos on YouTube and Spotify to choose from. 

During classes in which I struggle to focus, I do some exercises that work to activate both hemispheres of the brain. The first exercise is simply to drink some water (another reason why you should always have some water close by during class). Next, using your fingertips, apply a small amount of pressure to your chest and the area right above your belly button. This exercise is commonly referred to as “pressing your brain buttons.” For the next exercise, place your left and right fingertips together and hold for as long as you like. This will really get both sides of the brain working. Finally, stand up and bring your right knee to your left elbow. Now bring your left elbow to your right knee and repeat. This exercise helps to stimulate your brain and helps you get moving. 

These are just some of the techniques that have helped me stay focused during Zoom meetings these past few weeks, but there are so many more that may help you. Also remember that if you feel overwhelmed or have been having a hard time focusing, your feelings are completely valid and you’re certainly not alone. All of us are still trying to adjust to this new way of learning and feel nervous about the uncertainty of our current situation. We all just need to find ways to remain calm and focused and to help us navigate this new normal.