Zoomed out?

We live in an incredible time where we are able to still connect in unusual situations. There has never been an age where working from home has been so accessible.  

Zoom meetings, virtual conferences and Facetiming loved ones has allowed us to continue to connect while staying at home. 

While that connection is extremely important and seeing each other’s faces is important to maintain a sense of normality, for some, the screen time overload causes fatigue and a sense of feeling overwhelmed. 

Why do we feel so tired after a day of video calls?

If you feel like you are working harder on video conference calls it’s because you are. 

When you are on a video conference call you have to be present the whole time. In a meeting face-to-face you might take notes, draw diagrams, look out the window or change your gaze from person to person. If you engage in this behaviour while on screen you can come across as uninterested, not listening or just being rude. 

Think about the natural body cues we pick up on when conversing in person. Those cues add to the conversation, help it ebb and flow and allow you to understand meaning and intention. When on screen, your mind must work twice as hard to pick up on those nuances in tone or subtle physical gestures. 

Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead was interviewed for the BBC where he shared that “our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally”. 

Take silence for example, a natural pause in a conversation can add to inflection and meaning, on a video call that same silence can feel distant, or come across as though the person is not happy with you, creating anxiety and a sense of disconnect. 

Combine this lack of information with backtoback meetings that then lead into evening calls with friends and family, plus heightened levels of stress due to unusual circumstances and it’s no wonder out brains are tired! 

What can you do to help yourself? 

If you are experiencing zoom fatigue, there are a few tips you can try to give your brain some much needed rest. 

First up, try chatting to your boss to see if it’s necessary to be on video for every meeting. Even if you are just changing internal meetings to voice only, you will feel a huge difference. 

Try (if you can) to change your setting for these calls, go outside or look out the window while on the call so you can give your eyes a break from the screens. 

Don’t schedule back to back meetings, try to have small 5 to 10-minute breaks in between at a minimum, so you can stretch your legs, and focus away from the screen 

Limit family and friend video catchups to the weekend and empower yourself to say no to virtual after work drinks if you feel drained. Many times, we are saying yes to these extra virtual catchups because we feel pressured. 

Give your brain the space and break it deserves, it will make you feel more refreshed and better able to work, in the long run. 

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