Many people are using videoconferencing tools like Zoom to conduct business meetings and to connect with friends and family amid the new coronavirus epidemic, but as the virtual meetings fill calendars, some people are beginning to experience "Zoom fatigue."
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So-called "Zoom fatigue" occurs when you're feeling tired, worried, or anxious because of the number of video calls you attend throughout the workday—and in your free time. According to Suzanne Degges-White, chair of counseling and counselor education at Northern Illinois University, these meetings can mess with our psychology.
Video conferences also can require more mental energy than a typical face-to-face meeting, according to Vaile Wright, director of clinical research and quality for the American Psychological Association. "It's this pressure to really be on and be responsive," she said.
For example, a video call requires you to remain in one position for the entirety of the meeting. You can't tilt your chair back or swivel it around. Instead, you're stuck positioning yourself in the middle of your computer screen—and if you move, your video could look awkward.
You also blink less when staring at a screen than you would in a face-to-face meeting, research suggests, which means your eyes are more likely to become irritated and dry. Along those same lines, Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, notes that video conferences put us in an unnatural position that requires prolonged eye contact and seeing a person's face enlarged on our computer screens.
"Our brains have evolved to have a very intense reaction when you have a close face to you," he said. And in typical, face-to-face conversations, "eye contact moves in a very intricate dance, and we're very good at it," Bailenson said.
Having a large number of video calls in one day also can make you feel like you don't get a break, Fast Company's Elizabeth Grace Saunders reports. While working in an office building, "[i]n order to get from one room to another, you had at least a few minutes of physical movement and a quick mental break," she writes. "Now, with videoconferencing, you literally have no time between meetings and go from one call to the next."
It can also feel awkward to see your own face during a meeting, and seeing yourself could cause you to change the way you act, according to Rhiannon Evans, a social scientist at Cardiff University. "All day, I see myself interacting with people," Evans said, adding, "It definitely consumes a lot more energy."
Experts have offered several tips to avoid getting Zoom fatigue during the workday—and during your free time:
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