Do you find yourself telling people that you are amazed at how exhausted you are feeling at the end of a day working from home in constant video meetings? It’s not just you, and it’s not your imagination. It’s called Zoom Fatigue.

Video Calls Can Drain Your Physical Energy

BBC Worklife spoke to Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead, who explores sustainable learning and development in the workplace, and Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, who studies workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness, to hear their views.

“Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat,” says Petriglieri. “Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy.“

Silence is another challenge, he adds. “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you become anxious about the technology.”

Also, “When you’re on a video conference, you know everybody’s looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful.”

Give Yourself a Break

Petriglieri and Shuffler suggested some of the following tips to ease Zoom fatigue.

  1. Limit video calls to those that are necessary—using your camera should be optional
  2. Consider using shared files with clear notes instead of video—it may actually be more efficient
  3. Build in transition periods in between video meetings—drink water, stretch, do some exercise

And maybe, says Petriglieri, if you want to reach out, go old-school. “Write a letter to someone instead of meeting them on Zoom. Tell them you really care about them.”

Here are some simple tips to help avoid Zoom fatigue exhaustion that should be fairly easy to discipline yourself to do.

4 Simple Tips to Protect Your Mental and Physical Health

1. Get a wireless headset or earbuds.

Not only is using a headset with a microphone best practice for conference calls (read Critical Zoom Tips for Hosts and Attendees), it enables you to turn your video off and move around, stretch, or practice Tai Chi or Yoga while really listening to what is being said. This works well during meetings that don’t require you to continually interact or actively collaborate.

You may find that you actually are more focused on the speaker(s) and less distracted by what is happening on the “grid.” If you need to see a visual presentation, you can still stand and move your body and watch the screen.

2. Smile!

Even when you are not the focus of the presentation or the meeting is in speaker and not gallery view, turn up the corners of your mouth and lift your eyebrows a bit. Did you know that smiling (even for no real reason) can make you happier (not to mention more photogenic)?

Psychology Today discusses a number of studies that show us that our brains actually pay attention to what our body is doing, and it affects our emotions. Plus, smiling is contagious. When others see you smile, you will be improving their mood too!

3. Take a nature break.

Even if you just go stand outside for 5-10 minutes it should make a world of difference. Try to carve out a little time each day to put all work thoughts out of your mind for a brief period and take a walk. You may find that you can think a lot more clearly afterward.

4. Practice a little belly breathing

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, or abdominal breathing, is one of the best techniques for quickly reducing stress and anxiety as well as to calm the mind and settle your blood pressure down. Here is a fun article with video that teaches you about belly breathing.

While we are not sure how long we will need to rely so heavily on video conferences, social distancing, and working from and staying at home, we do need to make our mental and physical health a priority.

Protecting our health means more than taking measures to avoid putting ourselves at risk of COVID19. It is suspected that the “next normal” will incorporate many new processes and abilities discovered and created by the advancements and adoption of technologies during this pandemic.

We also have an opportunity to check-in with ourselves and learn habits and techniques that will benefit our health long-term. Often, being good to ourselves and making a commitment to our own health allows us to be a better resource for others.

Here is a related article with additional tips explaining how video calls and meetings can take a toll on your brain and alter perceptions. Are You Suffering From Zoom Fatigue?

About the Author

Kris Brinker is co-founder of Ocean 5 Strategies, providing continuous improvement of sales and marketing performance with plans, strategies, and programs that deliver results. Kris is also founder/lead instructor of Just Breathe Tai Chi, helping people gain balance and reduce stress.

You can connect with Kris on LinkedInOr send a message below.