Simple ways to prevent ‘ZOOM’ Fatigue

With the introduction of online tools to help increase communication during work, school, or leisure hours, excess screen time is something that many of us are fighting against- especially during the COVID19 pandemic. But what you're experiencing is not unusual. Millions of people who have had to increase their time spent at home recently have started to experience virtual fatigue, or what's more commonly known as: 'Zoom fatigue.'

'Zoom Fatigue' is the hidden consequence for those of us who spend a lot of time in virtual meetings.

What is Zoom Fatigue?

The screen fatigue is named 'Zoom fatigue' because of the increase of users using the ZOOM platform. But the phenomenon occurs on all video conferencing platforms, including Hangouts, Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, and Slack. Virtual fatigue occurs when you feel tired, anxious, or drained from your day due to your participation in video calls. According to Vaile Wright, director of clinical research and quality at the American Psychological Association, video conferences require more mental energy than typical face-to-face meetings.4

Why does Zoom fatigue happen?

As soon as you log into a video call, you enter this constructed virtual bubble that often creates a challenging and anxiety-inducing environment as all participants are actively aware of each other and their movements. While on the calls, people often feel as if they are making a presentation which tends to increase stress and anxiety levels.

Though it may be a combination of factors, virtual communication often requires more mental processing than face-to-face interactions. Video calls make it difficult for people to process the non-verbal cues that they so heavily rely on while speaking in person (such as tone, body language, eye contact, gestures). This miscommunication may lead to an increased and constant need to be overly available and concentrated. Add a decrease in downtime and fewer transitional spaces to help relax the mind and eyes during meetings, and these virtual spaces increase the chance of burnout.

Did you know? Research has also shown that when you're on video, you tend to spend most of your time looking at your own face.2

Who does Zoom fatigue affect?

Virtual fatigue is most noticeable among those who work from home and students who attend online classes.

4 Simple Ways to Prevent Virtual Fatigue

On days when you can't avoid back-and-forth video calls, make sure to:

1. Keep the meeting on track

Stay on time by establishing a plan before the call. If a video meeting was supposed to be short but starts to drag on longer than it needs to, this could increase the feeling of zoom fatigue.

2. Schedule breaks throughout the day.

Unfortunately, many work and school schedules are created as a marathon of virtual meetings one after the other. Try to fit in as many mind and body breaks as you can throughout your day.

3. Turn off the microphone.

Turning off your microphone was recently found to lower post-video conference fatigue.

4. Reduce the number of video calls.

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it may not be necessary for people to be on video all the time. Either switch to a voice-only call or type out your questions via email.

Remember, the burnout you feel after a long day of video calls is normal. If you're not the only one on your team experiencing virtual fatigue, try talking to your boss or co-workers to find a solution that serves the whole team.


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