Are You “Zoomed Out”? What’s Zoom Fatigue and 5 Ways to Fight It
Updated: Jan 21
Zoom fatigue is a thing and it means exactly what the name suggests: exhaustion due to the increased demand in using the tool for video conferences such as calls and business meetings. The teleconferencing company Zoom reported an astronomical growth during the surge of the covid-19 pandemic.
The non-verbal communication
The ultimate solution to remote work wears on the ability of the brain to concentrate and focus for a longer period of time. According to an article published on National Geographic, we humans communicate with words as well as when there’s nothing being said. “During an in-person conversation, the brain focuses partly on the words being spoken, but it also derives additional meaning from dozens of non-verbal cues.”
However, in a typical video call, the brain loses these cues and people are purely dependent on the words being said. And for someone who is mostly dependent on this non-verbal communication, it can be quite draining not having them.
And according to the specialists, group video chats are even worst.”Multi-person screens magnify this exhausting problem. Gallery view—where all meeting participants appear Brady Bunch-style—challenges the brain’s central vision, forcing it to decode so many people at once that no one comes through meaningfully, not even the speaker.”
For the brain, it feels like it’s multitasking. And contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is a big barrier for productivity. Scientists now know that the brain is incapable of paying attention at two things at the same time.
How to deal with Zoom fatigue?
If you’re working from home due to the pandemic or you can’t meet with some friends or family members who don’t feel safe to be with others in person, it might be quite hard to avoid video calls.
That said, there are some ways to cope with zoom fatigue:
If you can, opt for traditional calls
According to the assistant professor of cyberpsychology at Virginia’s Norfolk State University, Andrew Franklin, traditional calls are less hard on the brain because there is only one thing for it to focus on: the voice.
If you can, take 5 minutes before or in between calls, practise any kind of breathing technique you feel like doing. A few rounds of deep breathing can help you decrease stress almost instantly.
You can also benefit from mindfulness when dealing with zoom fatigue. It focuses on bringing your attention to the present moment. Breathing in essential oils, staring at the horizon, sun gazing (if it’s early in the morning), moon gazing and going for a walk are all quick-fixes.
However, if you have a bit more time — even if it’s just 10 minutes — try mindfulness meditation. Apps like Waking Up, Headspace, Calm and websites like Mindful.org and The Free Mindfulness Project are great sources of guided meditations.
Take a break
In a regular office environment, we’re constantly moving from one space to the next — whether it be going to the loo, taking a coffee break or attending a meeting — short breaks should be part of remote working arrangements.
Stretches, going for a walk outside, reading a few pages of a book. It’s important to take a break from any electronic device (that includes your phone too), as what we’re searching here is for cognitive breaks as well.
If you feel tired, stressed out or overwhelmed with work — especially if you're having a hard time adapting with remote work — it might be a good idea to talk to your boss and/or your team.
Setting boundaries and standing up for yourself is worth trying. It may feel hard to tell people how you're feeling but remember this: if you don't tell them how you feel, they most likely won't guess.
It's also a good idea to consider if a video conference is needed. If you can't solve whatever you have to solve through an email, ask the other person if they're okay with a traditional call. You can still use Zoom or another platform of your choice, but don't need to turn on your camera.
The bottom line
Due to the current event we're living at the moment, video call is a trend that's here to stay. Since most of the people need to use it on a daily basis, it's worth considering a few things like taking breaks in between work, opting for a traditional call and add some mindful practises into your days like meditation and breathwork. They will help you to cope with "zoom fatigue".