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How to Combat Zoom Fatigue

If you are finding yourself exhausted between classes, office hours, webinars, and social time all on Zoom, you are not the only one. Over the past few months, “Zoom fatigue” or “Zoomed-out” have shown up more and more over social media and Google searches. Most importantly, it is probably showing up in your home. 

 

Why do we find video calls so draining? One of the reasons is that video calls require us to hyperfocus on conversations and facial expressions to absorb information. Unlike in-person, you cannot rely on body language or whispering to your neighbors to catch up if you daydream for a few minutes. In addition, the close-up, constant stare at a person’s face is uncomfortable and exhausting. 

 

But if you think the hyperfocusing improves our concentration, think again. On screens, we are used to chatting with our friends, checking emails, scrolling social media, and viewing Zoom in the Brady-bunch view. Our visual sense is overloaded with distractions and stimuli, all screaming for our attention.  

 

Thus, we are all Zoomed-out by 3 pm – if we even make it that long 

 

If this sounds like you, read on. Here are three simple tips to help you manage Zoom fatigue: 

 

1. Avoid Multitasking 

 

This was also true before sheltering in place. Studies have shown that doing multiple tasks at once diminishes performance. You are not being more productive by planning your research project during math class. In fact, it is counterproductive.  You will have to work twice as hard on your own to make up the content you missed during class. 

 

Insight Advice: The night before, print out everything you will need. Before class starts, close all your tabs, turn off notifications, and put away your phone and tablet. During class, take notes by hand. This will help you break the constant gaze and improve your recall. Also, avoid the chat function in Zoom. You cannot be focused on your teacher if your eyes and mind wander to the chain of messages being sent back and forth. 

 

2. Maximize Zoom and Choose Speaker View 

 

Research shows that you tend to spend more time staring at your face during video calls. On-screen distraction also involves staring at your friends and trying to figure out what’s in their background. These drain your focus and energy. 

 

Insight Advice: Maximize the video call window to block out other apps. Choose speaker view, so you are focused on your teacher and class materials. Avoid the temptation to look at your friends. 

 

3. Schedule Breaks and Commit 

 

This is another bit of advice that you will keep hearing throughout your life. Research shows that breaks can help you physically and mentally. Just like athletes need a good recovery stretch after a big game, we need to build-in productive breaks. 

 

Insight Advice: Every week, plan out your week ahead and schedule in breaks. For every two hours on screen, you need at least 15 minutes off-screen. Challenge yourself to commit to taking breaks. During your break time, walk away from all your electronic devices and opt to do something active. Take a short walk. Dance to your favorite music. These activities will help you recover quickly and boost your energy. (And your mood, too.) When you eat lunch, do so without a screen. Play some music or eat with a family member and allow yourself to just focus on the break. Think back to when recess was truly recess for you! The same advice follows when school is over. Take a break from screens and the pressure of school for at least 30 to 45 minutes before diving into your homework. 

 

 

These tips may be hard to follow at first but challenge yourself. Using these pieces of advice will help you study smarter, feel less stressed, and have more energy for other activities. It’s stressful to enter a new school year with a new norm, so why not make virtual school a little easier for yourself.  

 

 

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