Zoom Fatigue is Real

Woman waving to laptop as if on Zoom. - 5/10/2021

We’ve read the articles: “Sitting for prolonged periods of time is the new smoking.” “Too much screen time can ruin your eyes.” “Smartphones can be a real pain in the neck.” Most recently, we are learning more about Zoom fatigue. Technology is definitely providing benefits during the pandemic, but it comes with a few hazards too. With so many people using Zoom for work and family connections, a few tips may help prevent Zoom fatigue and stress.

What is Zoom fatigue?

Many Zoom users express feeling tired from using videoconferencing technologies so often. The platform has become a mainstay during the pandemic which has been helpful. However, extended periods of time spent videoconferencing can cause ocular stress, fatigue and pain.  

Key signs of burnout include:

  • Forgetfulness or trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty being present with someone
  • Frustration and irritability with others
  • Muscle tension or insomnia

Learning how to use any new technology can be stressful. The pressure is even greater when you are trying to help someone through a life crisis as is the case with mental health counselors across the country. “In large part, mental health services are now offered using telehealth or Zoom, and it looks as though it’s here to stay because it’s proven to be an effective modality,” said Mack Moore, director of Victim Services/Adult Outpatient Counseling, Lakeview Center. “We can’t pause our services for someone who has experienced trauma. We must remain connected, and Zoom is providing that resource.” 

Contributing factors to look out for in preventing or reducing Zoom fatigue:

  • Prolonged eye gaze at a close distance
  • Increased cognitive load
  • Constantly looking at yourself
  • Reduced mobility

Once you recognize the contributing factors to Zoom fatigue, a few simple practices can help reduce its impacts:

  • Ground yourself before meetings and take brief breaks during long meetings.
  • Hide self-view to avoid constant self-evaluation.
  • Be aware of “personal space” and back away from the viewing screen.
  • Stretch or move around every 15 minutes.
  • Focus solely on the meeting and avoid multitasking (i.e. checking email, chatting, texting).

Self-care has become more of a priority over the past year, but we’ve also seen some silver linings from the pandemic. In many ways Zoom has been a lifeline for people. It’s best to remain open-minded and maintain a balanced view of change, but also set personal parameters to ensure physical and mental well-being.