Zoom Fatigue

written by Keely Johnson, M.A.

We may experience different types of exhaustion in our daily lives. As we are adjusting to the new world of Zoom courses and meetings, you may find yourself exhausted, having difficulty concentrating, and zoning out. Some may notice an increase in emotional exhaustion such as increased anxiety, stress, nervousness, depression, increased negative thinking, apathy, increased anger, and feeling like the smallest things set them off. Others may experience social exhaustion from attending virtual happy hours and dance parties in addition to online classes and meetings. This can lead to feeling overextended from spending time with others and wanting to have some time alone. And don’t forget physical exhaustion such as aching backs, daytime drowsiness, eye strain, restlessness, and headaches, which can be experienced from our virtual presence and impacting our overall health.

 

Zoom classes and meetings can contribute to our emotional, social, physical exhaustion. As we may feel an increase in internal and external pressures to connect virtually with our friends and families, our minds and bodies may have difficulty adjusting to the constant online presence. What are some ways to help combat Zoom fatigue you may ask? Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you remain present during virtual classes and meetings.

 

  1. Reduce onscreen stimuli. By switching from gallery view to speaker view, you will combat mental fatigue and give your brain a break from all the visual cues you are attempting to process by looking at others and their backgrounds.
     
  2. Block the self-view feature. Though it is good to check to see how you are presenting yourself to the other members of the meeting, we don’t typically stare at ourselves as we talk to other people. By constantly viewing yourself, it can induce feelings of anxiety and worry about our looks or what is happening in our background or the lighting.
     
  3. If applicable call in using your phone not your computer. This option allows you to move freely around your living space and the option to take a step outside for fresh air.
     
  4. Build in Breaks. This may not always be an option as sometimes our schedules are back-to-back. However, taking a five-minute break from technology can help combat Zoom fatigue. Some suggestions include stretching, going for a brisk walk, drinking water, eating a snack, taking a step outside, cuddling a pet, or even doing some jumping jacks!
     
  5. Take notes paper-and-pen style. If possible, try to avoid multitasking on your computer by having a document open to type. By switching to the paper-and-pen method, you will increase retention of class material and be more actively engaged and listening to the content.
     
  6. Have your “home office” feel different than your “living area.” This may be tricky if your home office space is the same as your living space. However, by changing some things around in your environment, you can set up a space that will let you brain know it is time to work, or it is time to relax. Here are some tips to help signal your brain that it is time to switch!
    1. Change the lighting
    2. Although comfortable, try to use a space other than your bed to study
    3. Change or select a playlist
    4. Ditch the coffee mug used to fuel your Zoom meeting energy when finished with classes or meetings for the day
       
  7. Avoid Multitasking. While it is tempting to check your email or response to a text message, try to put other tasks aside. Researchers at Stanford (2018) discovered that those who multitask have decreased performance compared to those who dedicate their attention to one task. 

As we continue to learn more about the affects the current pandemic has on our mind, bodies, and overall health, there are limitations to this article as some of this information is a combination of peoples’ experience and research is still underway.