Zoom Fatigue

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By:  Autumn Jager     E-Campus Logo

Zoom Fatigue

Prior to the pandemic, I didn’t know that Zoom still existed. It was more of a weird memory buried in the back of my mind from elementary and middle school. Now here we are in 2021, and I’m starting to forget what working in the office was like or attending class in a lecture hall was like.

However, working from home and doing classes virtually has never felt totally natural to me. I’m feeling what a lot of people call Zoom fatigue very strongly as we approach the end of the semester. So I started thinking. What is it about virtual interaction that is so draining? I’m a very outgoing, social person, so this isn’t an issue I was anticipating having. Maybe this is a reason I’m feeling this sense of fatigue so strongly, but even outside of that factor, here are some of the other reasons that I’ve noticed myself feeling so drained as a result of video conferencing.

Lack of physical movement: If I’m not careful, I spend my entire day Wednesday sitting in the same spot at my desk or on the floor because I go from one meeting to another to class to another meeting. 

Watching myself on the screen: This is something I’ve noticed myself doing lately (maybe because I’m interviewing for post-graduation jobs) but instead of watching everyone else in my class or meeting, I spend most of my time watching myself on the screen and over-analyzing my communication. 

Lack of non-verbal communication: I’ve always been very in-tune to the non-verbal signals given off by others, and that is a big part of both my own communication style and the ways that I interact with others. Since you often don’t get those over video platforms, I find myself feeling drained after interactions because they take so much more effort than normal. 

Interruptions: This is a challenging one. Whether it’s my professor’s cat jumping onto her keyboard, my advisor’s baby cooing in the background, my puppy throwing toys and chasing them around the room, or my roommates barging into my room to use my shower, it’s very hard to keep my work, academic, and personal lives separate, and this sometimes makes my day feel like one long workday.

Fatigue Images

So how can we solve this? My opinion: getting vaccinated (and making sure everyone I know gets vaccinated as well), so that we can get back to “normal” sooner rather than later. Outside of that, here are some other ways that I am combatting Zoom fatigue.

Scheduling physical breaks I now schedule time in my day to take my puppy for walks, as well as brief training sessions with her. I get up and walk around my house in between meetings as much as possible, so I can both have some movement and some in-person interaction.

Turning off self-view on my screens: This is a weird one, but on days when I can’t stop watching myself talk, I turn off the self-view. In Zoom, you can do this by clicking on the three little dots in the upper right corner of your picture, and selecting “Hide Self View”. In Google Meet, you can do this by hovering over your own video tile and clicking “Remove tile”. 

My own body language: I almost always have my camera on in Zoom meetings, and something I’ve tried to do recently is to make sure my own non-verbal communication over video conferencing is larger and more noticeable than it usually is in person. People often mirror the body language that they see, so they often will become more animated and passionate as a result of my own increase in non-verbals.

Minimizing interruptions on my end: While I can’t control what happens in other people’s homes, I can at least minimize interruptions in mine. I have a whiteboard on the outside of my door that I leave notes for my roommates on so they know when they should or should not walk into my room.

Everyone’s different, so spend some time figuring out what is causing your own Zoom fatigue, and come up with some solutions to help yourself feel a little better! If you want to read more, the APA just posted an article on Zoom fatigue (you can find it here). I’ve also included a really interesting TedTalk that discusses some additional reasons you may be feeling drained from video calls! 

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