Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we have all been spending more and more time on video calling platforms for work and studies. In addition, staying connected to friends and family has also included video calls whether for general chats or those weekly quiz nights (lockdown 1.0!). On one hand, the ability to maintain work and stay connected is a huge positive of the technology we have available, however on the other, has anyone else noticed how demanding it is of energy? I have been reassured to discover that “zoom fatigue” is a legitimate thing, and that it is not just me.
Some of the reasons behind this include:
- Maintaining concentration on a screen is more demanding than face to face. We need to work harder to process non-verbal clues such as body language and facial expressions, as well as listen more intently to tone and pitch.
- We talk more during video calling due to the concerns around silence being perceived as a connection issue.
- We tend to “perform” more due to being watched. This is more anxiety provoking and, as we are also more animated, it is more physically demanding too.
- Our social roles are now all condensed into one space. Whereas before we would share time at the office, other people’s houses, the pub, the gym etc, all our social interaction is through one screen. Being on a screen can constantly feel as though we are working, and this can make it difficult to “switch off” and rest from differing demands.
Whilst recognizing that your not alone in your experience is validating, the good news is that there are also things that can be done to help mitigate the fatigue. Whether you’re a student, mentor or supervisor, I hope this can be helpful to you.
Since learning that Zoom fatigue is a real thing, I have been thinking of ways I can help mitigate some of the affects. At the moment, video conferencing platforms are crucial to enabling me to continue with my work as a Mental Health Mentor. I’m also wondering how I can help other colleagues at the Learning Support Centre and wider.
Here are some tips that have worked for me:
- Block time in between meetings to rehydrate, rest your eyes and ground yourself for the next session.
- At the end of the day, sit in a dark room. No really! Spending some time with no stimulation, if only for 10 minutes can have real benefits to your peace of mind at the end of a heavy day. Shutting your eyes and meditating can bring further benefits. Apps such as Insight Timer, Calm or Headspace can introduce you to this if it is new to you.
- Switch to phone calls for catching up with family members or friends so that you can recharge without losing the connection of people you care about. This also has the added benefit of not merging our working environments and social environments together.
- Everyone knows the benefits of exercise by now but getting out away from the screen, and home, at the end of the day and getting some fresh air can make a world of difference to energy levels. With the evenings becoming lighter, this should get easier.
- Get your eyes tested. I was wondering why my eyes were so achy at the end of the day. Turns out I have an astigmatism that could be contributing! New glasses mean a new look, and as there haven’t been many opportunities for that during lockdown, I’m taking this as an added bonus!
Author: Cat Robinson, Specialist Mental Health Mentor at The Learning Support Centre.