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 has created for many folx given the need for social distancing.

It has come to impact every facet of life, from how folx work to how they manage relationships with loved ones they can no longer visit as easily.

Webcam Communication

The findings in a 2008 journal article demonstrated that video conferencing communication increased the cognitive demands of participants.

Not only do people 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 in the conference call. All of these activities combined can be mentally exhausting.

Such findings indicate that it's important for you to assess the ways in which you're using video conferencing sessions so you can avoid burnout.

Coping With Zoom Fatigue

Due to our current circumstances, it might be quite difficult or impossible for you to meet up with coworkers or meet up with loved ones.

For example, your office space may be closed and maybe some of your friends and family are not yet comfortable with being with others in person.

To rectify the inability to engage in face-to-face interactions, many people are relying on webcam meetings or family webcam hangouts to fill these gaps.

While often more convenient, this kind of social interaction can be mentally tiring so it's important to alleviate stress—which you can do with the following tips.

Ground Yourself Before Video Conferencing Meetings

The benefits of mindfulness can be harnessed to replenish yourself when dealing with Zoom fatigue.

Grounding techniques can rely on any of your senses to connect you to the present moment and can be helpful when navigating draining interactions.

Some examples of how you may do this include:

  • Moisturizing your hands
  • Naming the items in your workspace aloud
  • Breathing in essential oils
  • Massaging your temples

Taking a few deep breaths before you get on the call or in between zoom meetings can also be very helpful. Deep breathing can also be done during the zoom 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 were used to regularly attending meetings in person, they would usually have to move from one location to another, which would provide 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. So, it can be helpful for meetings to be scheduled for less time to allow 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.

Based on such findings, the connections that were provided by work dynamics in person may not be as easy to find with video conferencing communication.

So, 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.

Also, during this time, you may need to focus on your connections with those in your home or with yourself to meet your needs for validation and connection.

Consider If Video Conferencing Is Needed

With most meetings occurring remotely, video conferencing communication has come to be the norm despite the increased cognitive demands of this process.

Given how much more draining it can be, it is worth asking if video conferencing is necessary for the 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.

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.

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.

Video Conferencing Tips

In many cases, there will be times when you cannot avoid a video conference meeting or chat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are required to attend a video conference:

  • 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. So, experiment with a few of them until you find one you like.

A Word From Verywell

Zoom fatigue is a reality for the many people who have transitioned to remote work 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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Article Sources
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  2. 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