What Is Zoom Fatigue?
With our in-person connections cut out completely, we’re all facing a new type of burnout.
Communication digitally is one of the only mediums for human connection we can forge nowadays with people who are outside our direct circle. While virtual hangouts are more convenient than trying to coordinate nights out or facilitate a work meeting, there are some downsides to this added layer of digital communication. With our in-person connections cut out completely, we’re all facing a new type of burnout: Zoom fatigue.
What is Zoom fatigue?
Zoom fatigue is an overarching term that can describe the tiredness, worry, and burnout caused by overusing virtual communication platforms.
It’s become prevalent now more than ever as we rely on technology more heavily today to communicate with everyone in our lives. From business meetings to family dinners, video chatting has become the safest way to get together but also can cause added stress and anxiety in our lives.
Why is it tasking on our brain?
Almost overnight, we were forced to adopt a new method of communication without knowing much about the repercussions. Video calls weren’t new by any means, but the volume by which we participated in them rose to 300 million daily participants just on Zoom alone. Taking calls virtually to replace in-person meetings may seem like an equal swap, but if that was the case, why do we feel drained after an afternoon of video calls?
When we’re on Zoom calls, especially when people have their cameras on, we spend an extended period staring at the screen in an attempt to make eye contact with whoever we’re speaking with. However, it’s pretty unnatural to have someone’s enlarged face close to yours with long periods of eye contact. Without visual breaks, our brain can become fatigued, and processing the video in front of us becomes extremely hard.
We’ve all been on a video call where we can feel ourselves starting to lose focus. That’s completely normal! When we’re on a video call, we have to focus more intently on what’s being said without having the benefit of being able to easily chime in in-person to ask questions or sidebar with someone in the room without disrupting the entire meeting.
By not being able to feed off each other’s energy and presence in person, a lot of nonverbal cues are lost in translation in the age of digital communication. These cues are lost, distorted, or delayed, making it difficult to carry on with business as usual. The delays in virtual verbal responses, even if it’s just by a millisecond, negatively affect our interpersonal perceptions, which makes it difficult to partake in normal conversations.
How to combat this fatigue?
Since ceasing to participate in any future video calls is not a realistic option, some work needs to be done on our end to try to mitigate the effects that Zoom fatigue can have on our mind, body, and spirit.
First and foremost, it’s important to make sure that you’re setting healthy boundaries for yourself. It’s easy to over-schedule video meetings while you’re in the comfort of your own home, so be sure to give yourself a break and spread out any calls as much as you can to avoid quick burnout.
Setting boundaries doesn’t always have to do with just your time constraints but also your privacy, especially if you’re using video conferencing for work. If you’re talking to someone and having your camera on isn’t necessary, keep them off for the time being and treat it like a regular phone call. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to just focus on the sound of their voice (imagine it like a podcast) versus taking in their audio and visual simultaneously on the screen.
If you can, try to avoid multitasking while you’re on a video conference, whether your camera is on or off. Trying to do multiple things at once actually reduces our productivity levels and cuts into our overall daily performance. You’re essentially taking the same amount of time and energy to get less done.
Are you taking time in your day away from your phone and computer? Having time in your day for a digital detox will give your brain time to reset and allow us to recharge. Take this time between meetings to get yourself prepared for the next as well as throughout the day to cut down on digital stimulation. If you can, try to implement specific blocks in your day as a “no meeting time” spot to ensure that you have these mandated breaks in your day.