How to Cope With Zoom Fatigue

Woman waving in a Zoom meeting

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Zoom fatigue is exactly what it sounds like—the exhaustion you feel from the increase in video conferencing demands that a global pandemic created for many folx. While being able to manage work remotely and safely keep in touch with friends and family is important, feeling as if you spend your life online can be overwhelming.

With virtual events likely here to stay, it's important to assess the ways in which you're using video conferencing sessions so you can avoid burnout. There are ways to fight Zoom fatigue without giving up your webcam entirely.

Causes of Zoom Fatigue

As far back as 2008, a study found that video conferencing communication increases the cognitive demands of participants. Not only do they have to coordinate the conference call, they need to create the illusion of eye contact through technology while still trying to process the other person's words. Combining all of these activities can be mentally exhausting.

While more research is needed, an article published in Technology, Mind, and Behavior in 2021 suggested four possible causes of Zoom fatigue. Along with the cognitive load involved with giving and receiving nonverbal cues on camera (similar to the 2008 finding), other fatiguing aspects of video conferencing are up-close eye gazing, less mobility due to the need to be in the view of the camera, and the effects of looking at oneself.

Coping With Zoom Fatigue

Many families and workplaces are continuing to rely on virtual meetings or family webcam hangouts. This kind of social interaction can be mentally tiring, so it's important to alleviate stress to keep that fatigue at bay.

Ground Yourself Before Video Conferencing Meetings

Harness the benefits of mindfulness to replenish yourself when dealing with Zoom fatigue. Grounding techniques rely on your senses to connect you to the present moment and can be helpful when navigating draining interactions. These techniques include taking a moment to:

  • Moisturize your hands
  • Name the items in your workspace aloud
  • Breathe in essential oils
  • Massage your temples

Taking a few deep breaths before you get on the call or in between virtual meetings can also be very helpful. You can also practice deep breathing during meetings (especially if your video is off) to help decrease stress in the moment.

Take Brief Breaks

Given how exhausting it can be to invest in the cognitive demands of video conferencing communication, folx would benefit from scheduling in short breaks for themselves.

When folx attend meetings in person, they usually have to move from one location to another, which provides some free time in between meetings. So, short breaks should also be built into remote working arrangements.

You may also benefit from getting up and stretching and practicing deep breathing before and after video conferencing calls. If you have any influence over meting schedules, plan to allow time for those much-needed cognitive breaks.

Find Connection Otherwise

In a 2014 research study, it was demonstrated that even delays of 1.2 seconds on technological systems made folx perceive that the responder was less friendly or not as focused on communication with them.

That means the connections that were provided by work dynamics in person may not be as easy to find with video conferencing communication. When speaking to others remotely, remind yourself that there is lag time and that the other person is likely not being rude or unfriendly on purpose.

In addition, it's helpful to focus on your relationships with those in your home, with yourself, or with folx you can see in person to meet your needs for validation and connection.

Consider If Video Conferencing Is Needed

Given how draining it can be, it is worth asking if video conferencing is necessary for every communication. If it's not, it might be a good idea to have the conversation over the phone or via email. These substitutions can help limit stress during your work day.

Advocate for Yourself When You Feel Fatigued

When you are stressed or tired, you might need to let your team know that you need a break or a mental health day. Setting boundaries, or letting people know where your needs and limits are, can often be stressful at first but will be well worth it.

While it may sound easy to advocate for yourself, it is worth noting that folx tend to be perceived differently based on factors of privilege and oppression.

If you belong to a marginalized group, it might be harder to advocate for yourself. In some instances you might need to find other ways to manage your stress and fatigue like setting boundaries on screen time outside of work hours or making time for self-care.

In moments like these, it's crucial not to internalize the oppression you experience—that is a reflection of folx with power who use their privilege unethically to further marginalize you—it's not a reflection of your value as a person.

For instance, an overweight BIPOC woman may be viewed as lazy or less competent by an older white man in a position of authority if she asks for time off as opposed to someone who is thinner, white, or male. This is rooted in how white supremacy, fatphobia, and sexism tend to intersect in the workplace.

Make Video Conferencing Easier

In many cases, you cannot avoid a video conference meeting or chat. To help make the interaction less tiring:

  • Use "speaker view" instead of "gallery view" so you can focus on one person at a time—you might find this less mentally draining. Also, this can limit the amount of time you focus on how you look on camera, which can add additional stress.
  • Turn off your camera when you can to help reduce the stress you may feel when you're on screen in front of many people.
  • Try a virtual background to make video conference calls more enjoyable. Zoom provides the option to choose any background you'd like to display behind you. Experiment with a few of them until you find one you like.

A Word From Verywell

Zoom fatigue is a reality, and it needs to be taken seriously so communication adjustments can be made in the workplace. If it proves impossible to opt out of draining video conferencing meetings, it will be even more crucial to limit cognitive demands otherwise, such as reducing screen time or taking breaks.

If you are in position where you have the authority to manage workflow processes, you might be able to help alleviate Zoom-related stress and fatigue among folx on your team by using email or instant messaging applications like Slack to complete tasks.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Bailenson JN. Nonverbal overload: A theoretical argument for the causes of Zoom fatigue. Technol Mind Behav. 2021;2(1). doi:10.1037/tmb0000030

  3. Schoenenberg K, Raake A, Koeppe J. Why are you so slow? – Misattribution of transmission delay to attributes of the conversation partner at the far-endInt J Hum Comput Stud. 2014;72(5):477-487. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2014.02.004