I am a Zoombie. By the time this week is done, I will have logged almost 30 hours of Zoom time plus an additional 13 hours of Google classrooms happening at the same time on the Chromebook next to me. (FYI based on my experience this week—I think I’m failing second grade). Not to mention the texts, emails, calls, and carrier pigeons (or ravens, depending on your preference) zinging in throughout, proving that you can not only be in two places at once but you can in fact be in three—four—five—and beyond.
Even though my body has barely moved from pretzel twist I’ve become, curled up over my laptop screen, my brain and my energy (so much energy) feels like it’s traveled to the moon and back. I am a Zoom induced zombie. A Zoombie.
My zombie lore is mostly regulated to Warm Bodies, which I’ve been told doesn’t qualify as true zombie lore. Perhaps that’s because in this version, zombies can be brought back to life with a little love and humanity. I’m a sucker for a good love story and the possibility of redemption. And I’ve come to learn the cure for Zoombie-ism is the same as the cure for zombie-ism: a little (self) love will restore your humanity.
Studies have shown that rituals, done either by yourself or as a group, can have major benefits on feelings of calm, control, and resilience. They can be a way to combat the effects of Zoom on the body, brain, and soul.
Theatre is chock full of rituals. Rituals to start rehearsals or to end rehearsals; to find your character or find your focus; to get pumped up or to celebrate success. In this Zoom world, we can use some theatrical ideas to create new rituals to help cure our Zoombie brains at the end of a long day:
FOR THE BODY
Take Action. Do some doing that involves reconnecting your Zoom brain to your body:
Lay on the Floor and Breathe. Sometimes we just need to get grounded. Literally. Lay on the floor and get let gravity go to work. Stretch out. Feel it in your fingers, feel it in your toes (Zoom is all around us, we’ve got to let it go).
Or if you have some pent-up physical energy that you need to get out:
Dance Party. Dance classes are one of the most fun rituals to engage. You don’t have to be in a studio or on the stage to get the benefits. Pull up your favorite playlist or station, hit play and just move. Five, ten, fifteen minutes. Don’t think (you’ve done to much thinking, it’s time to move), and don’t worry about what you look like (benefits of working from home: you can dance in your underpants and no none will know). Dance like no one’s watching. Just make sure you’ve signed out of Zoom first, otherwise chances are many people might actually be watching.
FOR THE MIND
End Scene. You’ve got to know your cues in order to keep the story flowing, and that includes knowing how to make both an entrance and an exit. This gets harder when our scene shifts don’t actually include a shift in scenery. Figure out a routine that physically signals the end of your Zoom meeting or the end of your Zoom day. Even if your office is your kitchen or your living room or your bathroom (hey, anything goes these days), physical end the moment to disconnect your mind. Leave the room, count to three, and come back. If you’re feeling theatrical, give yourself a snazzy curtain line to end the scene (I personally like to steal from Shakespeare’s direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear”.)
FOR THE SOUL
Take a Bow. At the end of a rehearsal, actors get notes from the director reflecting on what worked, what to work on, and where we’re going. And we know at the end of a good show, you’ve earned a curtain call to applaud your successes. Check in with yourself in some tangible way that gets your thoughts out of your head and into the real world. That could be saying it to another living creature like a person or a pup or a potted plan or writing it down (pen and paper, not on screen). Give a note, take a note, say thank you, and bow in gratitude. Get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS….
Theatre even has rituals to combat ancient curses brought on by breaking long standing theatrical superstitions, like saying Macbeth in a theatre. If it’s just one of those days, and you can’t shake your inner Zoombie, give this one a whirl:
Leave the theatre (the Zoom, the Room, the Wherever), spin around three times, spit, say the worst curse word you know, and then knock on the theatre door to be let back in (there are variations of this, but you get the idea).