What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks

Imagine your brain as a bustling city. The traffic of thoughts and tasks builds up during meetings. Breaks are like traffic lights, allowing the mind to slow down and the traffic to clear.

August 1, 2023
Mohit Sahni
What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks

Ever felt like your brain was stuck in a never-ending loop of video meetings, a mind-numbing carousel of screens and voices? You’re not alone. Millions around the world have been in that same sinking boat, trapped in back-to-back video conferences that drain the life out of the workday.

But what if there was science behind this feeling? What if it wasn't just a gut reaction but a measurable response happening inside your brain? 

Microsoft decided to dive into this very question, peeling back the layers of our Zoom-fatigued minds.

With electroencephalogram (EEG) caps and a well-thought-out experimental design, they set out to dissect this modern-day conundrum. And what they found was not just fascinating; it was enlightening.

Welcome to the deep dive into the scientific underbelly of meeting fatigue. 

The Back-to-Back Meeting Phenomenon

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Source: Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab

We all felt it: the accumulating stress from one meeting to the next. Microsoft's study, conducted among people participating in video meetings and monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment, put data into our feelings. As consecutive video meetings increased, so did stress.

“Our research shows breaks are important, not just to make us less exhausted by the end of the day, but to actually improve our ability to focus and engage while in those meetings,” says Michael Bohan, senior director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Engineering group, who oversaw the project.

Microsoft isn't just identifying the problem; they're pointing to an easy remedy: taking a break in between meetings. 

The Science Behind the Break

Work used to be different. A 9-to-5 job, a desk, a chair, and maybe a few office plants. But with the rise of remote work and back-to-back video meetings, the workplace has become a battlefield of cognitive overload and stress. 

Thankfully, science is here to help us understand why a break isn't just nice – it's necessary.

1. Breaks Reset the Brain

Beta waves – those little electrical signals our brains send out – they spike with stress. But when you take a break and perhaps indulge in a bit of meditation, those beta waves calm down.

Imagine your brain as a bustling city. The traffic of thoughts and tasks builds up during meetings. Breaks are like traffic lights, allowing the mind to slow down and the traffic to clear.

2. Meditation Isn’t Just for Monks

Meditation isn't about achieving nirvana; it's about giving your brain a moment to breathe. The Microsoft study showed that when participants meditated during breaks, they could enter the next meeting with a more focused and relaxed mindset.

It's like hitting the refresh button on your brain's browser. Everything loads faster and works better.

3. The Tricky Transition Between Meetings

Switching from one meeting to the next without a break is like trying to change lanes in a speeding car. Stress levels spike, and focus plummets.

The science? Beta wave activity. It jumps when you move between meetings without a break. Add in some meditation, and that spike levels out.

In other words, slow down before you switch lanes.

4. The Ripple Effect of Mindful Breaks

This isn't just about one study or one set of meetings. It's about creating a work culture that respects the brain's need to reset.

The science behind taking breaks goes beyond just reducing stress. It's about promoting a state of mental well-being that can last a lifetime. It's about recognizing that our brains need downtime, just like our bodies.

The results? 

The results were fascinating, with three main takeaways:

The Microsoft study was no mere surface-level glance at meeting fatigue; it was a scientifically rigorous investigation. Let's unpack the takeaways and see how they're backed by the cold, hard data.

1. Breaks Reduce Stress Buildup

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Source: Microsoft Human Factors Lab

Beta waves are like your brain's stress-o-meter. The more they build up, the more stressed you feel.

The Findings: In back-to-back meetings, beta waves increased over time, showing a cumulative buildup of stress. When participants meditated during breaks, beta activity decreased.

The Science Says: Beta waves are linked to anxiety and tension. They build up when we're engaged in tasks that demand concentration and focus. The study's evidence of breaks reducing this beta wave buildup means a real, tangible drop in stress.

2. Breaks Enhance Focus and Engagement

Frontal alpha asymmetry is a fancy term that tells us about engagement. Positive levels mean higher engagement; negative levels mean the opposite.

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Microsoft Human Factors Lab

The Findings: With meditation breaks, the alpha wave levels were positive, showing better engagement. Without breaks, the levels were negative, indicating less engagement.

The Science Says: Alpha waves are associated with relaxed alertness. Meditation, even short breaks, has been shown to increase alpha waves, enhancing focus and creativity. This study provided real-world evidence of this effect in a business setting.

3. Transitions Between Meetings Spike Stress

Remember those beta waves? They also spike during transitions between calls. They're like the stress ripples in your brain, rising with each change.

The Findings: Researchers noticed that beta wave activity jumped sharply when transitioning between calls without breaks. With meditation breaks, the increase dropped.

The Science Says: This observation points to the stress induced by constantly shifting gears. Beta wave spikes during transitions align with what's known about multitasking's stressful effects on the brain. Breaks reduce this "gear-shifting" stress, leading to a more balanced mental state.

A Simpler, Smarter Way to Work

The evidence is in, and the verdict is clear: more breaks equal less stress and more productivity. It's time for a meeting revolution. With tech giants like Microsoft leading the way, the future of work looks more balanced, more focused, and more humane.

It's not just about surviving those meeting marathons anymore; it's about thriving in them. Try the change, redefine the norm, and discover a simpler, smarter way to work.

Personal Wellbeing

Retention - Attrition Spelt Backwards

December 5, 2022
The Wellness Tribe Team
Retention - Attrition Spelt Backwards

We are in the midst of layoff season. While the world is shocked to see large internet companies like Meta and Twitter fire employees, the Indian startup scene has also suffered. So, what led to this, what is happening now, and what is yet to come? 

Race to Mass Layoffs?

Adding to the difficulties in Silicon Valley is the possibility that Amazon will announce layoffs that will affect up to 10,000 workers. Following Microsoft, Twitter, Snap, Meta, and Twitter, Amazon is the next big tech company to lay off employees. There has also been a decrease in recruiting at Apple and other companies. 

In the wake of fears of a worldwide recession, technology companies, traditionally large spenders, are now turning to cost-cutting.

Mass Firings: What Led to This?

From January 1 to June 1, 2022, the market capitalization of the top 30 technology companies decreased by $4.3 trillion. These 30 companies represent the majority of the value of the global tech market.

At least $5–6 trillion was lost in the global listed tech market as a whole. The top 30 businesses account for $4.3 trillion of this. In actuality, the combined contribution of Apple and Microsoft to this market value decline is close to $1 trillion. 

From June to August 18, the market value of the top 30 tech companies experienced a $900 billion recovery.

What's the situation in India?

Many edtech companies have let go of employees, including Byju's and Unacademy. It was reported that Unacademy had laid off 1,150 employees, while Byju's laid off 550 employees, not far behind Vedantu, which had laid off 624 employees.

Meanwhile, MFine laid off 600 workers, Ola fired 500 people, and Cars24 reported 600 job losses. In all cases, layoffs were caused by tighter monetary policies and a correction in the stock market.

How About the Attrition Rate?

In addition to layoffs, IT organizations have experienced high attrition rates. Labor costs and the cost of acquiring talent led to squeezed operating margins for all IT majors during the previous quarter.

During the first quarter of FY23, Indian IT companies spent, on average, 57% of sales on employee salaries, with some, like Infosys, raising their top performers by one or two digits. TCS's attrition rate for Q4 of FY22 was 19.7%, much higher than Infosys's 17.4%.

In Q4FY22, HCL Technologies experienced an increase in attrition from 21.9% to 23.8%. However, Wipro has managed to keep attrition rates relatively stable, dropping from 23.8% to 23.3% between April and June.

Physical Wellbeing

Hack Your Way to Health: The Science Behind Bio-Hacking

January 27, 2023
Rakhee Todankar
Hack Your Way to Health: The Science Behind Bio-Hacking

Welcome to the world of Bio-Hacking! A revolutionary approach to optimizing our health through the manipulation of our diets. Gone are the days when we simply relied on conventional wisdom and bland diets to maintain our well-being. The landscape of our diets has shifted dramatically, with a growing interest in the science behind how we fuel our bodies. 

And that's where Bio Hacking comes in, offering a new way to unlock our full potential through tailored nutrition. By understanding the intricate interplay between our diets and our bodies, we can fine-tune our eating habits to achieve optimal health. 

Join me on this exciting journey of discovery, where the possibilities are endless and the results truly transformational.

The Art of Nutrigenomics

One of the most exciting developments in the field of nutrition is the science of Nutrigenomics. By sending a simple blood sample to a specialized laboratory, we can delve deep into our genetic makeup and discover the optimal diet tailored just for us. 

From uncovering food sensitivities to maximizing our nutrient intake, Nutrigenomics is a powerful tool for unlocking the full potential of our health and wellness. 

The Time-Tested Technique

Intermittent fasting has been a timeless technique, originating from ancient civilizations where food was scarce and long periods without eating were common. It's about balancing controlled eating and fasting to find what works best for you.

This practice brings numerous benefits, such as improved metabolism, better insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation. It allows your body to focus on important processes like cell repair and waste removal by regulating your eating patterns and giving your digestive system a break. Find your rhythm, whether it's fasting for 12 or 16 hours, and reap the benefits of this time-tested technique.

"Good nutrition is a responsibility, not a restriction." - Bettina Leigh

The Elimination Diet

Hack Your Way to Health: The Science Behind Bio-Hacking
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

As a professional nutritionist, I always suggest exploring the power of the elimination diet to uncover food sensitivities and improve overall health. The process is simple: by eliminating certain foods and then gradually adding them back into your diet, you can discover which foods trigger adverse reactions and determine any allergies you may have. 

The Fiber Fix

When it comes to your diet, fiber is often the unsung hero. This time-tested nutrient provides a multitude of health benefits, from supporting good gut health and boosting immunity to improving digestion and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. But despite its many perks, many of us struggle to get enough fiber in our diets. 

Start by incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet. These nutrient-rich foods are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health and well-being. Consider adding various colorful food items to your plate, and try new recipes incorporating fiber-rich ingredients, like whole grains and legumes.

The Supercharge of Superfoods

As a professional nutritionist, it's hard to deny the buzz surrounding "superfoods" and their potential health benefits. But what exactly makes a food "super"? It's all about the high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support our overall health and wellness. From nutrient-dense berries to anti-inflammatory spices, incorporating these power-packed foods into our diets can give us the extra boost we need to feel our best. 

So why not add a sprinkle of spinach to your smoothie, or enjoy a handful of goji berries as a snack?

The Protein Punch

Hack Your Way to Health: The Science Behind Bio-Hacking
Photo by Mark DeYoung on Unsplash

Protein is the powerhouse nutrient that provides the building blocks for our muscles, hormones, and enzymes. It's essential for maintaining muscle strength and tone and helps ward off cravings by filling us up. But the benefits of protein don't stop there - it also plays a critical role in balancing hormones and managing blood sugar levels. 

From animal-based sources like meat, fish, and dairy to plant-based options like beans, lentils, and tofu, there's a variety of ways to get more protein into your diet. 

The Sweet, Sunny, and Savvy Approach

The Sugar Solution: Sweeter Health Ahead

Sugar, the sweet treat that has become a staple in our diets, is causing more harm than good. Overconsumption of processed foods and sugar leads to a host of health problems and is taking a toll on our bodies. But it's never too late to make better choices for our health. We can turn our health around by cutting back on processed foods and sugar and enjoy a sweeter, healthier future.

The Vitamin D Boost: Light Up Your Health

Vitamin D is crucial in optimal health, playing a role in everything from bone health to immune function. Maximizing your vitamin D levels through sun exposure and supplementing for deficiency can help ensure you're getting enough of this essential nutrient. Don't let a lack of sun keep you from shining bright!

The Practice of Bio-Hacking

Biohacking is the process of making small changes in your diet, exercise, meditation, and mindfulness practices to achieve big results for your health. Keeping a food log and making conscious choices can help you make the most of your bio-hacking journey, leading you to a healthier, happier you.


The journey to healthy living and well-being doesn't have to be complicated. Bio-hacking is a simple and effective way to take control of your health and harness the power of diet, exercise, and mindfulness. With the help of professional guidance, you can find your own path to health and happiness by making small, sustainable changes that will have a big impact on your health in the long run. 

So why wait? Embrace the power of bio-hacking today and start your journey towards a healthier, happier life.

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This month we are focusing on food and how it affects your mental health. Join us as we bring in the most relevant interesting content from across the wellness segment.

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